I suspect that anyone that read my last blog might think that I am against shared custody or that I believe it to be impossible.  That is not the case.  Rather, my point in that post was to address possibly bad faith requests for joint custody by those people who have historically neither spent a lot of time with the children nor did much of the actual parenting.

But shared parenting time is not an impossibility.  Supposedly, it requires parents who have the ability to communicate and cooperate.  That said, I have seen parents who cannot have a civil word with each other effectively co-parent. 

Shared parenting, by New Jersey standards, is anything between 28% (104 overnights) and 50% of the overnights with the children.  Curiously, these definitions actually stem from the child support guidelines.  When the newest iteration of the Guidelines came into being in 1997 or 1998, they had two different worksheets – a sole parenting worksheet and a shared parenting worksheet (104 overnights and over).  While non-custodial parents now got child support reductions with each overnight, the credit was greater using a shared parenting worksheet. As a result of the new guidelines, negotiations over additional overnights began, in many cases for obvious reasons.

However, in the context of shared parenting that was the subject of my prior blog and this one, I am talking about substantially more time, basically 40-50 percent of the overnights.

For parents who were both very involved with the children and who schedules allow, this is a possibility.  Again, I am not sure that it is realistic in most cases where one parent was a stay at home parent and the other left the house at 6 am and got home at 7 or 8 p.m.  But in cases where there is flexibility in the work schedule and/or the ability to spend a lot of time, coupled with significant prior involvement, shared parenting, in my opinion, can be considered.

I often tell fathers (typically), that they don’t have to settle for alternate weekends plus one night a week for dinner (one rather old fashioned judge called this the "off the shelf" parenting plan.)  Rather, if they want more time and really can exercise it, that they should seek it.  In fact, over the last decade or so, in most custody evaluations I have seen, it has been rare that simply the "off the shelf" parenting plan is ever recommended.  Keeping in line with much of the new research saying that children should spend as much time as possible with each parent, most of the evaluations I have seen recommend some type of shared parenting (more than 28% but usually not 50%). 

 

The bottom line is that when logistically possible and when sought for the right reasons, shared parenting could very well be in the children’s best interests.

4 Responses to Shared Custody – It is a Possibility

Frankly I don’t know many families anymore where the mother doesn’t work. It’s more typical to have BOTH parents working 9-5, and trying to fit in their parenting time – making the idea (and need) of shared parenting more realistic (and more important) than ever. It just goes to show, though, how antiquated the system really is; when the father has to prove that his schedule can be flexible, and it’s “understood” that the mother can have all the time in the world to raise her children. Changes need to be made, but I don’t see it happening soon, when even the lawyers have old fashioned ideas. It’s a real travesty, because the ones that lose out are the children.

I DEFINETLY AGREE WITH JEFFEREY I HAVE JOINT LEGAL RESIDNTIAL CUSTODY AND ITS THE WORST THING POSSIBLE.ITS NOT FAIR TO MY CHILDREN THAT THEY LIVE WITH ME ONE WEEK AND THEN WITH DAD AND FIANCE ANOTHER,ESPECIALLY WHEN DAD IS NOT THERE HIS SCHEDULE DID NOT CHANGE HE DID NOT MAKE ANY SACRIFICES TO SPEND MORE QUALITY TIME WITH HIS CHILDREN HIS FIANCE IS IS TAKING CARE OF THEM WHILE HE WORKS AND THEN GO TO SCHOOL AFTER SO WHT WAS THE POINT OF SHARING RESIDENTIAL CUSTODY WHEN MY CHILDREN COULD HAVE JUST STAYED IN THEIR COMFORT ZONE WHICH WAS WITH ME.NOW THIS BECOMES A BIG MESS ONE HOUSEHOLD DO ONE THING AND THE OTHER HOUSEHOLD DOES ANOTHER HOW CAN THE CHILDREN BECOME STABLE AND ESPECIALLY WHN NO ONE IS ON THE SAME PAGE. I THINK BEFORE A JUDGE JUST SIMPLY MAKE THAT TYPE OF DECISION FACTS AND UNDERSTANDING NEED TO BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION ESPECIALLY IF THE CHILDREN HAVE BEEN LIVING WITH ONE PARENT ALL OF THEIR LIVES IT NOT FAIR TO THEM BUT LATELY THE COURTS R JUST USING THE CHILDREN TO MAKE POINTS THEY SAY THE BST INTEREST FOR THE CHILDREN BUT HOW CAN IT B WHEN THEY ARE LIVING TWO DIFFERENT LIVES ON A WEEK TO WEEK BASICS I THINK THE JUDGES SHOULD SEEK WHAT ARE THE MOTIVES BEHIND BOTH PARENTS BEFORE EXCERSING A JUDGEMENT THAT MAY NOT BE IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILDREN AND THAT MAY UNSTABLIZE THE CHILDREN MUCH MORE.LIKE JEFFEREY SAID IS IT JUST TO WIN?

Sounds alot like my story. My ex husband and I have been divorced since 2003 separated since 2002. We have a 9 year old daughter. He is a school teacher, so he has summers off, winter break, spring break, etc. Our agreement called for him to have our daughter every other weekend from the time she turned three, prior to that he was to have her every Sunday from 10am-7pm. He was required to pay $360 per month in child support. Since our daughter turned three he has never taken her a single weekend, still just takes her on Sundays 10am-7pm. He has never once complained he wanted more time with her. Now last week I filed a motion to increase child support and to change his visitation to Sundays which is what he has always wanted. All Hell has broken loose and now he says he wants his weekends, he will take custody from me, he feels bad for our daughter because she is going to lose her mother. But as recently as his winter break less than a week ago he was so busy he could only watch her 1/2 of one day, so I had to take 2 days off from work, have my mom watch her, send her with my sister for a day. Couldn’t agree more, so many parents out there have no interest in spending time with their children until they have to start spending their money.

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