There are two types of custody; physical and legal.  This article will discuss physical custody only.  I will discuss legal custody next month.

I was in court last week and a father was on the witness stand during a custody hearing.  During his testimony, his attorney asked him what type of physical custody was he requesting from the court.  He instantly replied “joint custody, 50/50.”

He looked very confident and had a smile on his face like he just won the championship.  Little did he know what was about to transpire.  Before the attorney could ask the next question; the Judge asked the father what type of physical custody was he requesting.  He again replied “50/50 joint physical custody.”  At this point the court asked the same question again.  Suddenly he looked lost and did not know what was going on.  The Judge wanted father to specify what he meant by 50/50 joint custody.

The father looked to his attorney for help but the attorney could not answer for him.  I could see the father trying desperately trying to remember what he was suppose to say.  Then he suddenly remembered what his attorney told him to say and replied to the Judge “I want a 2-2-5 schedule.”  The Judge then asked what type of 2-2-5?
The father sat on the witness stand clueless as to what a 2-2-5 schedule meant.  He made several excuses as to why he didn’t know what the schedule was or how he could not explain it.

This is the exact situation you do not want to face.  When you are requesting 50/50 joint physical custody; you must know exactly what that means.  There are many variations of 50/50 custody and you must know what you want.  If you do not know what you are requesting, how can a Judge give it to you? Even more importantly, if you don’t know what you are asking, the Judge may assume you don’t really want it and that you are only asking for 50/50 in order to decrease your child support. From my experience this is one of a Judge’s biggest pet peeves.

Before you go to court you must examine what schedule you want and know exactly what it entails.  This means you must know the exchange days, times, location, and who will be responsible for transportation.  These are all details that are commonly overlooked because the party is only focusing on the term 50/50 or joint physical custody.

There are many different ways to divide a 50/50 timeshare.  The schedule you pick is going to be based on your individual circumstances.

Here are some typical examples of a 50/50 custody schedule:

1)  A 2-2-3-2-2-3 Schedule:  This schedule is where the child spends Week 1 with Parent A on Monday and Tuesday, Parent B on Wednesday and Thursday and the weekend with Parent A on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The child spends Week 2 with Parent B on Monday and Tuesday, Parent A on Wednesday and Thursday and the weekend with Parent B on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

This schedule is useful because it allows consistent contact without long time periods away from either parent.  This is generally used for babies and younger children.

2) A 2-2-5 Schedule:  It is the same as the schedule above except that each parent has the same week days each week.  Parent A always has Monday and Tuesday and Parent B always has Wednesday and Thursday.  Each parent will alternate Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  This gives each parent 2 days during the week and 5 days in a row on alternating weeks.  This is common for middle aged children and it is beneficial because there are less exchanges.

3) A week on/week off schedule: This schedule gives each parent a week at a time with the child.  This is a common schedule for teenagers because it is the minimum amount of exchanges and gives the child longer periods of time with each parent.

I hope these suggestions give you a better understanding of the types of schedules that are available to you.  Remember, that you can always discuss a parenting plan with a Family Law Attorney and get advice on which plan will work best for you and your children.

If you are not prepared to give the Judge your plan you could end up like the father in the example above.  In that case, the Judge did not give him 50/50 joint physical custody.