Equal Parenting Time - When is it Appropriate, How to Make it Work / by Cassandra Hearn

Each parent wants to maximize the amount of quality time spent with his or her children. When there is a divorce or separation, one household becomes two.  This means parenting time is also divided, reducing the amount of time that either parent may spend with the children. In many cases, it is possible to have an equal division of parenting time and the children spend the same amount of time in each household.

While this sounds optimal, it is not ideal for every family, and experts disagree on the benefits of these arrangements. Many factors should be considered before entering into an equal parenting schedule. One important consideration is the age of the children. If children are school-aged, serious consideration should be given to the need for one stable environment during the school week. This is also largely dependent upon the personality of the children. If the children do well with change and are flexible, equal parenting time would be more likely to succeed than if the children have stronger needs for consistency. Consideration should also be given to the distance between the parents’ home and school. If one parent resides a much longer distance from the children’s school, it may be too hard on the children to add a long commute during the school week. The parents must also have the ability to work together for the benefit of the children, and the desire to continue that work in the future.

If an equal parenting is your goal, here are some tips to help make it work in the long-term:

1.      Make sure that you have an effective and reliable way to maintain open communication with your former spouse or partner.

2.      Work together to coordinate schedules, homework, and extracurricular activities on a regular basis.

3.      Be realistic about your schedule, be sensitive to your ex’s schedule, and be thoughtful about your child’s schedule. For example, extracurricular activities that fit in your schedule may not work with your ex’s schedule, and vice versa, and they may complicate your child’s ability to enjoy time with both parents.

4.      Maintain flexibility and be aware of the needs of the other parent, and respect the way that parent’s household works even if it is different than your ideal household.

Dividing parenting time is no easy task, and every family is different. Contact us today at 619-800-0384 if you are facing divorce or separation, and we can talk about a realistic parenting plan that is as unique as you are.