Common Mistakes with Split Custody


Split Custody is becoming a more common choice for parents. Shared Custody, equal custody, 50/50 custody are other ways of describing the idea that each parent should spend approximately the same amount of time with their shared children after a divorce or split-up of the parents.

When parents call and ask “Can we ask for split custody?” The answer is yes, we can ask, but it needs to be a logistical good fit. If a parent travels a lot for work it might not be feasible to share custody in this way. If parents are going to live long distances from each other, this can present problems in an equal custody request. If parents can handle shared custody, it may be a good option. Judges have recently expressed being more open to split or shared custody, if it makes sense in that particular case.

Here are the top 5 common mistakes I see when parents elect a split or shared custody schedule:

(1) There’s no geographic restriction for where the kid(s) can live. One parent may want to stay in the same area but the other parent then wants to move away. Without these restrictions the other parent can move far away and that create lots of logistical problems for the parent who is staying.

(2) There’s no school designation for the kid(s) enrollment. If a specific school is important then the custody paperwork should designate where the kid(s) will be enrolled and what happens if neither parent lives in that school zone.

(3) There’s no forethought on travel between the parents’ new residences. What happens if someone moves further away an expected? Sometimes the marital residence is getting sold but there’s no planning for where parents are moving after divorce and the house gets sold. Parents might get priced out of their neighborhoods when they go from two incomes down to one and so must move farther out of town. That creates travel problems for school drop offs, extracurricular participation, or custody exchanges.

(4) There’s no forethought on extracurricular schedules. Sometimes a child’s practice times change days to the other parent’s days of the week, or events happen on weekends that cover both parent’s weekend time with the child. What happens when there are travel concerns for getting the child to an event/practice/game? What happens if one parent does not follow through on getting the child to practices? To games? To performances? Can the other parent provide that transportation? What notice needs to be provided?

(5) Not using a shared child-calendar. Parents who do not live in the same house anymore should be using an online calendar and updating it with healthcare appointments, extracurricular events, birthday parties, and school events. Both parents should be able to edit the calendar to add/change it when/if needed. Parents should be notifying each other when and why the calendar gets updated so there are no surprises.

When asking if split custody, shared custody, or equal possession custody is right in your case you should call a local attorney who can review your specifics and advise if these options might be a good fit for you.