Is a 50/50 split the best custody, visitation decision?

Over the past few years it has become more common for a child to split their time evenly between both parents. And while for some this idea of co-parenting may seem like the best way to ensure each parent keeps their rights as a parent, one clinical psychologist is questioning if this scenario is really what is in the best interest of the child.

Rather, Dr. Joseph Nowinski, who is a clinical psychologist and author, favors custody and visitation agreements that at first mirror the amount of what he calls the “parenting experience.” Then, as time goes on and each parent becomes more and more involved and used to the day-to-day of parenting, the agreements can be changed to a more 50/50 split.

To decide on whether this would be the best choice for the child, or if maybe equal co-parenting from the beginning is a good idea, Nowinski suggests taking inventory and trying to answers questions, like who the child’s pediatrician is, what their favorite television shows are, what size clothing the child wears, how to contact their teacher, etc.

Now, when looking at these questions, it’s important to keep in mind that the idea is not to say one parent is better, it’s rather just who has been more of the caregiver and has more “parenting experience.” For example, if one parent stayed home, while the other was the provider who worked long hours, the parenting time will most likely be viewed as somewhat unequal.

In addition, for the child, there may be some attachment to the primary caregiver, which could result in anxiety for the child as there is going to most likely be an adjustment period as the one parent gains those experiences and takes on more and more duties related to parenting.

However, Nowinski’s idea is that as time goes on and each parent is able to catch up on their parenting experiences, the custody and visitation agreements can then be changed on a more gradual level until it’s eventually a co-parenting evenly split arrangement.

Of course, this is not to say that this idea is even the best plan for every family, rather, it is just one way possible arrangement to explore when looking at custody and visitation agreements now and in the future.

Source: Huffington Post, “Helping Children Survive Divorce: Is Co-Parenting a Good Idea?” Joseph Nowinski, Aug. 8, 2011

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