A Presumption of Equal Timesharing?

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Timesharing/Visitation on Friday, September 14, 2012.

Increasingly, clients are demanding shared custody and 50-50 child custody, meaning they want to divide the time with their children and other parent equally and have equal decision making rights. I’m also hearing calls for legislation to make joint custody and equal time sharing mandatory. The British government recently announced it is seeking to amend Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 to introduce a legal presumption of ‘shared parenting’.

When parents get along reasonably well, and live close by, an equal timesharing schedule may be in the children’s best interests. It can: foster Florida’s policy of frequent contact with parents after divorce, reduce custody litigation, spare thousands of children from being dragged into a battle between their parents, and discourage custody cases which have more to do with how much child support gets paid than timesharing.

Equal timesharing can be done in different ways: Week on/week off, 5-5-2-2 (in which a parent has the child for two weeknights then the child goes to the other parent for two weeknights, then the child goes back to the first parent for the three day weekend and the first two assigned weeknights which equals five nights.) and more. I can’t list all of the schedules possible, but an equal timesharing schedule is only limited by the parties’ willingness to be creative.

The rub of course, is creating a timesharing schedule which maximizes parent/child time, and minimizes transition troubles. While a 50/50 timesharing schedule may be desired, geographic distance, school hours, extra-curricular activities, and work schedules make equal timesharing impractical. In those cases, a more traditional timesharing schedule may be desired, and any shortfall in a parent’s timesharing can be made up during long school breaks, like Christmas and summer.

In order for an equal timesharing schedule to succeed though, the parents have to be flexible, and put the interests of the children first. This is easier said than done. Inevitably, school and extra-curricular activities – or a parent’s work commitment – are going to require the timesharing schedule to be adjusted. If parents are inflexible and unwilling to cooperate with each other, 50% timesharing can have a 0% chance.