There are lots of resources for helping parents talk to their children about divorce and helping them process their emotions, but many people don’t consider the adjustment period kids often experience after beginning living in two different households. Custody arrangements can have a huge impact on how well a kid adapts.
Some kids adjust quickly, while others may struggle for years with feeling shortchanged time with one parent. The final custody arrangement should take into consideration the child’s emotional needs, but the primary focus should be on creating stability to help them adapt.
The following are the most common custody arrangements:
- 50/50 split –parents split their custody time down the middle.
- 60/40 split – one parent might have an extra day of custody, but it’s close to even.
- 70/30 split – there are different configurations to this arrangement. One example includes one parent taking the kids every weekend, and the other taking them every weekday, plus one full week of the month.
- 80/20 split – in this arrangement, one parent might be the designated weekend home and the other might be the weekday residence, keeping a stricter school schedule intact.
These schedules can look slightly different for every family, but they generally follow the same time allotments.
Who makes the decision, and how?
A few different factors will be used to decide which custody arrangement is most suitable for you, your ex-spouse, and most importantly, your child.
Parents who opt for mediation and a settlement outside of court often decide custody based on a mutual agreement about who the child is most bonded to, whose income and living situation is more stable, and/or whose schedule allows the most consistency.
If the decision does end up in court, the above factors are weighed by a judge, with the parent who is determined to have been the “primary caretaker” favored for primary custody.
Considering the child’s needs
The different custody schedule options reflect other needs, like whether a child would benefit most from being in one specific home during the school week. For instance, if one parent choses to move outside the child’s school district, the other parent might be granted custody on school days to avoid switching schools or having an excessive commute to and from school.
Conversely, if a child is equally attached to both parents and would suffer emotionally from reduced time with one, the 50/50 split might be the best option, provided both parents are capable of that level of custody.
Ultimately, the goal is to help transition kids into their new normal as smoothly as possible. The right custody arrangements can help with that transition.