In Colorado, there is certainly a trend that parents have equal parenting time in divorce and allocation of parental responsibility cases. Though it sounds like a great idea, often times it is not practical, and therefore, not in the best interest of the children.
John Morrison, a Divorce and Family Law Mediator and Financial Analyst, does an excellent job of identifying the issues that can arise in equal parenting time arrangements that do not serve the best interest of the children – they are as follows:
Potential 50-50 Problems
1. Often one of the parents wants the 50-50 arrangement because they feel it should be their right to have half of the time with the children. They are motivated by their own self-interest rather than what is practical or best for the children.
2. The desire for 50-50 is sometimes motivated by the aim of reducing child support. It is true that the greater the timeshare percentage of the paying parent, the less will be their guideline child support. But here also the parent is motivated by self-interest rather than what is practical or best for the children.
3. Sometimes a 50-50 timeshare represents a compromise between the parents because they are unable to agree to anything else. Problematic practical realities will likely arise when the compromise is implemented.
4. 50-50 arrangements often involve a lot of exchanges of the children. This may be relatively easy if the parents live close to each other, as is often the case when they are first splitting up. If one parent moves further away, it can be hard to keep up the 50-50 schedule.
5. A 50-50 timeshare often implies a 50-50 split of parental duties with the children. The parents however will have different parenting skills and interests. Ignoring these in favor of a 50-50 schedule can create frustration for both parents.
6. 50-50 arrangements require a lot of work by both parents. If either parent has a full-time job, their life will be very full and perhaps overwhelming. Opportunities for efficiencies such as having one parent focus on the children’s homework and the other on their extracurricular activities can be lost.
7. A lot of cooperation is required between parents to make a 50-50 timeshare work. Each parent needs to be reasonably well-organized, meet their commitments and communicate effectively with the other parent. If this is lacking, problems will develop.
8. In a 50-50 arrangement, each parent has equal time and authority to discipline, influence and teach the children. This means that each parent has an equal opportunity to create very different, perhaps even contradictory, experiences for the children. That can be confusing for them and even emotionally harmful.
9. The needs of the children (and the parents) will change with time. 50-50 timeshares imply a certain rigidity – that the time with each parent must be kept exactly balanced. This can constrain flexibility in meeting the real and changing needs of all concerned.
As is typical, it always comes down to the parents putting their children’s interest before their own. When parents do this, they come to arrangements that serve their children’s best interest and allow the children to have the best opportunity to thrive. Each case is different and each family’s dynamics are different – it is critical that parents understand what their dynamics are and what arrangement will work for their children given their specific dynamics.
Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel Margulis to craft the parenting plan that works best for your family and for all of your Family Law needs.