One of the most common questions parents ask our Fort Worth family law attorneys is, “How can I get a 50/50 possession schedule” or “50/50 custody 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 important, 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 or joint custody 50 50 custody schedule with alternating weekends.
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.
In Texas, the family courts are very supportive of custody schedules that give both parents plenty of time with their children. It still comes down to whether or not a 50/50 visitation schedule makes the most sense for your situation.
Is a 50/50 possession schedule the best option for your child?
While our family law firm sees more 50/50 possession schedules in the Dallas / Fort Worth area today than in the past, many judges in Texas won’t agree to a 50/50 co parenting schedule. And even if you get an associate judge to buy your argument, you could end up with a district judge who 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. You can learn more about the Texas standard visitation calendar 2022 by visiting the Texas attorney general’s web page on parenting time. (Are you looking for a custody agreement example? You’ll find the most common schedule examples for Texas families below.)
If you’re still hoping to get a 50/50 custody schedule, you may be wondering what is a good 50 50 custody schedule and what options are available to you. Every family is unique, and where the parents reside, where the child or children attend school, the number of children, ages of children, frequency of extracurricular activities and other considerations should be taken into account when deciding on a visitation schedule.
It’s also critical to consider what a 50/50 custody holiday schedule and custody calendar looks like and keep in mind that holidays and summer vacations typically alternate from year to year. Also worth noting, being somewhat flexible with the other parent with a 50/50 custody schedule and the occasional adjustment to a custody x change can go far when dealing with the rigidity of a 50/50 arrangement.
While it’s typically best to follow your possession schedule as closely as possible, life happens. If both parents make an effort to be kind, respectful and accommodating, the 50/50 custody schedule and custody exchange process can be a whole lot easier to navigate.
On the other hand, if one of the parents is trying to manipulate the co-parenting schedule (and the other parent) or is frequently late for the custody exchange, taking steps to file an enforcement for the visitation schedule may be necessary. This may include filing contempt of court charges with the family court, where a judge could penalize the parent for not following the custody orders.
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.
Figuring out which 50/50 custody schedule to choose isn’t always easy, especially when parents don’t agree which route to go. When considering the examples of custody agreements above, take time to weigh the pros and cons for each parent and the child. What is a good 50 50 custody schedule for you, may not work well for the other parent or best suit the child’s needs.
If you and the other parent are at odds, you will need to explain to the judge why you prefer one schedule over the other. The judge will consider parent’s work schedules, children’s school and extracurricular schedules and other concerns when deciding which schedule would be in the best interest of the child.
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.
In truth, 50/50 custody schedules can work well for some families but we’ve found that to be more of an exception than the rule. Being bounced around and uprooted time and again can be problematic for kids, regardless of age.
Are you and your ex both good candidates for equal possession?
The reality is that 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.
And that transformation can take time, both for the parent personally and in the judge’s eyes. If you know you haven’t been the best parent in the past, taking parenting classes is a great first step. We also recommend working with a family counselor or therapist to learn strategies for healing and expanding the parent-child relationship. Above all, show up for your kids—both physically and emotionally—when and where they need you.
Again, your heart needs to be in the right place if you want to persuade a judge that a 50/50 custody schedule is in the best interest of your child and feasible in your and the other parent’s case.
If the real reason you want to get 50/50 possession is to avoid paying child support (which isn’t how it works as we explained above) or you are hell bent on preventing the other parent from being primary conservator, that typically won’t fly with judges in the Texas family courts. In fact, it might even backfire on you. Putting your child’s best interests first and showing you are willing to amicably co-parent is critical if you want to persuade the court that 50/50 custody makes the most sense in your case.
To learn more about your options, speak with an attorney experienced in negotiating 50/50 custody schedule and visitation agreements
Co-parenting is rarely easy, especially when parents don’t see eye-to-eye. Making a 50/50 visitation schedule work, well, it takes work. It also takes a commitment from both parents to put their child first and work together to make sure the 50/50 arrangement stays on track. Are you up for the challenge?
If you live in the Dallas / Fort Worth area 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.