By: Abigail Grieve
Obtaining A 50/50 Custody Arrangement:
While possible under Texas law, the likelihood that you will receive a 50/50 custody arrangement is entirely dependent upon agreement between you and the other parent or on the discretion of the judge.
Option One: When parents wish to share custody, the first option is to create a written agreed parenting plan which should contain provisions about which parent will have access to the child and when. If you and your child’s other parent wish to have a 50/50 custody arrangement and are able to come to an agreement and submit that parenting plan to the court, the court will render an order pursuant to that plan if they determine that it is in the best interest of the child.
Option Two: When both parents are not able to come to an agreement regarding the custody arrangement, the court will render a custody schedule for the parties. In Texas, it is presumed that the Standard Possession Order is in the best interest of the child. This means that if you wish to have a 50/50 arrangement and the other parent disagrees, thinking they should be awarded more time, you will have to convince the court that the 50/50 arrangement is what is in the best interest of the child.
Types of 50/50 Custody Arrangements:
In a 50/50 arrangement, each parent is awarded approximately 50% of the year with their child.
Type 1: The simplest 50/50 schedule is a “week on/week off” configuration. In week on/week off, you and the other parent would exchange custody of your child once a week, selecting a day that works for both of you to make the exchange, for example Sunday at 6:00 PM.
Type 2: While simple, seven days is a long time for many parents to go without seeing their child. So, alternatively, you may wish to utilize a 2/2/5/5 arrangement. In this configuration, one parent would be with the child on Monday and Tuesday of any given week, the other parent would be with the child on Wednesday and Thursday of any given week, and the parents would have alternating weekends with the child. This means that during any one week either the first parent would be with the child Friday through Tuesday, or the other parent would be with the child Wednesday through Sunday, hence the 2/2/5/5 name. Both the week on/week off and 2/2/5/5 schedules work well organizationally and would be easy for a child to understand when they are with which parent.
Type 3: Alternatively, a more difficult 50/50 schedule is the 2/2/3 schedule. This schedule would probably be best used for parents with small children, so that no one parent goes too long without seeing the child. In this arrangement, the child spends two days with one parent, two days with the other, and then three days with the first parent. Then the next week it switches. A downfall of this schedule option is that it is not as intuitive as the other options since the parents would have to sit down and mark out their possession schedule on a calendar starting from the beginning of the year instead of just knowing that they are with the child every other week or every other weekend.
In deciding whether you want to try and obtain a 50/50 custody arrangement, it is important to think about what will be best for you and the child, as it will be a lot of moving around and will require a lot of communication between you and the other parent. If you and the other parent are not on the best of terms, this may be a difficult schedule to work through. Alternatively, if you and the other parent are able to effectively co-parent despite your relationship status or personal disputes between you, then sit down with them and talk through how the 50/50 schedule would work in your lives.
Next week, see a discussion regarding the 50/50 Custody Arrangement Debate.