One of the most common questions parents ask our Fort Worth family law attorneys is, “How can I get a 50/50 possession schedule?” However, before digging into the HOW, it’s important to figure out IF a 50/50 possession schedule (often referred to as 50/50 custody or equal possession) makes sense for both parents, and most importantly, the child. If you want to find out if a 50/50 child custody schedule is a good fit for you, ask yourself the following questions:
Why do you want a 50/50 possession schedule?
If your answer is, “I don’t want to pay child support,” then we need to clear up one of the biggest misconceptions about 50/50 possession first. The truth is, you’ll probably still end up paying child support even if the judge agrees to order a 50/50 possession schedule.
It’s incredibly rare that a 50/50 agreement doesn’t involve child support in Texas because both parents rarely earn the same income. Most likely, there will be some disparity (often a big one) in earnings. If you’re the higher earner, the court will say something like, “Breadwinner, your child support is set at X amount based on your income. Stay-at-home mom, your child support is set at X amount based on your income. We’re either going to offset, or we’re going to have you pay her and her pay you.”
On the other hand, if your answer has more to do with playing an equal role in your child’s life—from decision making to spending quality time together—a 50/50 arrangement MAY be appropriate.
Is a 50/50 possession schedule the best option for your child?
While our family law firm sees more 50/50 possession schedules in Tarrant County today than in the past, many judges in Texas won’t agree to them. And even if you get an associate judge to buy your argument, you could end up with a district judge that does not.
Many judges don’t like 50/50 possession schedules because they believe a standard or expanded standard possession schedule is in the best interest of the child. And in many cases, it’s difficult to prove otherwise.
The most common 50/50 possession schedules in Tarrant County, Texas include:
- Every other week: Child spends one week with mom, one week with dad, repeat.
- Thursday through Sunday: Parents exchange the child on Thursdays and Sundays, with some choosing to alternate who has weekdays and weekends.
- 2-2-3: Two days with the first parent, two days with the second parent, the weekend with the first parent. The next week, two days with the second parent, two days with the first parent, the weekend with the second parent.
Depending on which version of the 50/50 schedule you get:
- You either end up with a lot of back and forth, which makes it difficult for the child to get into a routine, OR …
- With the every-other-week option, the child gets comfortable with one environment only to be uprooted and moved to a totally different environment in the other parent’s home. This can be very stressful and unsettling for the child.
Are you and your ex both good candidates for equal possession?
The reality is, 50/50 custody can only work if both parties are able to co-parent, cooperate, live close to each other and intend to work together to raise the child. If either parent travels a lot or works long days, the judge will likely assign primary conservatorship to the other parent, who is either a stay-at-home mom or dad, works part-time or works from home.
You’ll also face an uphill battle if you haven’t walked the walk in the past, meaning you have always been responsible for 50 percent of parenting duties. That’s not to say that a formerly workaholic dad can’t transform into a super dad—which would be great!—but that dad will need to prove to the judge that he’s capable and willing to do so.
To learn more about your options, speak with an attorney experienced in negotiating child custody and visitation agreements
If you live in Tarrant County and want to find out if a 50/50 possession schedule makes sense for you, the other parent and your child, the Sisemore Law Firm in Fort Worth is here to help. To schedule a one-on-one case review with our founder Justin Sisemore, call our office at 817.336.4444 or visit our contact page to connect with us online.