50/50 custody (also known as joint custody) isn’t easy. Many parents would prefer to be with their children full-time or would just prefer not to have to deal with their child’s other parent on a regular basis. Parents generally do want what’s best for their children, and there’s little doubt that for most children, substantial involvement with both parents leads to better outcomes overall.
Meaning, 50/50 custody really is the best choice for parents who prioritize their children’s needs. And it’s not all that bad – shared parenting does have its benefits! Take a look at some of the unexpected perks of 50/50 custody.
50/50 Custody Allows More Time for Yourself
50/50 custody may not be what you were hoping for when you became a parent, but odds are that single parenthood wasn’t what you were hoping for either. Being the sole caretaker of one or more children is a lot to take on. They need so much time, attention, and effort from you. It’s rewarding work, but it’s also exhausting. Especially when you’re doing it every single day.
50/50 custody means that you get to take a break. It’s not the same as having another parent in the house to help you carry the load, but it does mean that you get some time when you don’t have to worry about meeting all of your children’s needs because it’s somebody else’s responsibility during that time. You can use some of that time to meet your own needs, such as:
- Indulge in a little “you” time and practice some self-care.
- Do errands and tasks that are difficult to accomplish when children are with you.
- Take naps and showers without any interruptions.
- Attend exercise classes and prep your meals for the coming week.
Whatever restores you or makes life easier for you going forward, you’re free to focus on that during the time when your ex has the kids.
50/50 Custody Makes Dating and Socializing Easier
Maintaining friendships can be tough after you have children. It can be hard to catch up and do things with your friends who don’t have children of their own.
You may find that their idea of a fun weekend activity is something that isn’t suitable for children, so you can’t bring yours with you – and if you can’t find someone to watch the kids, you can’t go either. You might also find that you just don’t have as much energy for exciting child-free activities as you did before you had to contend with everything from 2 am feedings to chaperoning field trips.
And even if your friend group includes a lot of parents with kids of their own, it still might not be easy to maintain your social life. You may discover that most of your gatherings end up being about the kids instead of about your own friendships, or you may simply find yourselves drifting apart as everyone gets wrapped up in their own lives.
But with 50/50 custody, you should have some free time that doesn’t revolve around your kids. This may be your chance to renew and strengthen old friendships. Use that time when your kids are away to reach out and set a coffee date. Or it may be a good time to make some new friends – try signing up for a class or joining a local interest group to meet people with whom you have things in common.
You may even want to date again. That might seem impossible when you’re wrapped up in divorce proceedings or a custody battle, but life always moves on eventually, and you will too. Dating as a parent can be tricky, but 50/50 custody means that you’ll have some time on your own to get to know a new romantic interest before you decide if they’re someone that you want to introduce to your children.
Scheduled Parenting Time Helps Create Habits and Routine
Some people thrive on routine, others have difficulty sticking to one. But a joint custody arrangement can give you a framework for a routine that you can build around. Typical custody agreements aren’t open-ended, instead, they describe in detail who will have the children and when, as well as when, where, and how transfers will take place. And of course, custody orders are legally enforceable, so you definitely want to follow them.
If you know that you want or need a routine but struggle to establish one, this can actually help you. You’ll know ahead of time exactly when you’ll be busy with your kids and when you won’t. You can use that information to build healthy routines for you and for your kids. Maybe schedule a spin class for Friday afternoons when your ex has the kids, and make a habit of swinging by the children’s library for storytime on Mondays when you have the kids. The period during a divorce and custody case is often a time of upheaval, so a joint parenting schedule can help you get back to a more orderly routine that you enjoy.
50/50 Custody Means Shared Responsibility for Discipline
All children challenge their parents in some way or another. It’s very normal for children to disobey from time to time and to push back on their parents’ rules. One of the difficulties of single parenthood is that you don’t have another parent in the home to back you up when you try to enforce discipline and rules.
50/50 custody isn’t an automatic solution to that problem, but if both parents can agree to certain ground rules and boundaries, it can provide a solution. If your children know that they can expect mom and dad to back each other up on rules and enforce consistent discipline in their respective homes, they will know that they can’t play one parent off of the other in order to get away with things.
Of course, this requires not only a 50/50 custody arrangement but also the willingness of both parents to work together to address the challenges of raising their children. Not all divorced parents have that – sometimes one or both parents refuse to cooperate with their child’s other parent and act in good faith. But if you can share custody evenly, you can probably collaborate on other issues as well if both of you are committed to doing the best for your children.
In time, the residual hurt and angry feelings from your relationship’s ending will fade, but you’ll still be parents who must work together for the good of your children. When divorced parents value their children enough to cooperate and back each other up for the good of their children, it makes life easier for both parents and better for the children.
If you’re facing a custody battle and need support, resources and legal advocacy, a legal resource group like National Family Solutions can help you better understand your father’s rights in preparation for family court.