How Does a 50/50 Custody Arrangement Work in the State of New Jersey?
When a judge is considering a child custody request, he or she will decide—always—based on what is best for the child.
That is the judge’s foremost concern. This means that, regardless of what parents consider to be fair, the child’s emotional and physical well-being will always be the highest priority for the judge.
That said, courts prefer to see both parents involved in their children’s lives if they are willing to be parents. As a general rule, New Jersey courts assume that it is best for the child when both parents share the responsibility of raising and caring for the child. The judge will evaluate the parents’ relationship. If the judge finds that the parents are able to interrelate in a civil way, he or she may approve a request for a 50/50—or joint physical custody—arrangement. This is different from a custody arrangement where one parent is given primary physical custody; instead, a 50/50 arrangement allows for approximately equal time split between the two parents.
For a 50/50 custody arrangement to work, it is essential that both parents be flexible and be able to maintain good communication. The two parents will need to talk a great deal about subjects like the child’s health, schooling, and vacation time. A 50/50 arrangement works best when the parents live near each other since pick-ups and drop-offs will be difficult between homes that are a long distance apart.
Pros and Cons
There are pluses and minuses, pros and cons, to a 50/50, or joint physical custody, arrangement.
First the Pros:
One big advantage of a 50/50 custody arrangement is that the child maintains frequent contact with both parents. A parent is also able to spend time with his or her child privately, often. Of course, parents would need to agree on specific days and times for when each parent would have the child, but these arrangements can be changed over time, based on the child’s needs and schedule.
A 50/50 arrangement can be emotionally beneficial for the child since he or she can remain emotionally close to both parents. This arrangement may also be beneficial in that the arrangement may create less tension and guilt over “loyalty” issues, which can occur when a child lives primarily with one parent.
In addition, parents can split the responsibilities of child-rearing, which can help as they struggle to start over after a divorce.
In some cases, a joint physical custody arrangement may even make child support payments unnecessary, since both parents are expected to provide for the child while he or she is in their care. Don’t assume, however, that a 50/50 custody arrangement automatically negates child support. If one parent earns a higher salary than the other, the court may still order that parent to pay child support so the child has the same quality of life in both households.
Now for the cons:
Despite these real benefits, there are also potential pitfalls to a 50/50 arrangement. Although the child will have lots of time with both parents, and that’s important, a child may also feel confused and insecure from not having a “permanent” home.
For some children, having to move from one home to another every few days can be exhausting, especially if they already have a busy schedule. A 50/50 arrangement can also place a mental strain on the child since his or her two homes are likely to be quite different from each other. It’s important to the child’s welfare that the parents agree on key parenting issues ahead of time, such as methods of discipline, curfews, types of allowable activities—and how much screen time. This prevents a child from becoming confused when he or she is allowed to do certain things at one parent’s home but not at the other’s.
With either custodial arrangement, some degree of conflict is inevitable as changes occur in the lives of the child and the parents. Before attempting a 50/50 custody arrangement, parents should consider whether or not their child has the maturity and adaptability to adjust to frequent changes.
50/50 schedules work best when:
- The parents live fairly close to each other, so exchanges are easier.
- The parents are able to communicate with each other about the child without fighting.
- The child is able to handle switching between parents’ homes.
- Both parents are committed to putting the child’s best interests first.
- The parents agree that the 50/50 schedule is the best one for their child.
Contact a Brick Custody Attorney Today
Speak with an attorney if you have questions on what type of custody arrangement will work best for your family. Call the experienced family law attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC at (732) 812-3102. with your questions.