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When is joint child custody a bad idea?

If you ask a child psychologist, he or she will probably tell you that joint child custody is preferred. Child psychologists like the idea of children spending half their time with you and half their time with the other parent because it gives them as much time as possible with both parents -- and this has a positive effect on their growth and development. At the same time, however, psychologists will also agree that a 50-50 custody split is not appropriate in all situations.

Here are a few circumstances where a 50-50 split is not going to work:

  • One of the parents works a strange schedule: Imagine you are a firefighter or an emergency room nurse. You might have to work 24-hour shifts, or three days on and four days off. Your schedule might also be erratic and unpredictable with certain days when you're on call. If your work schedule is anything but normal, you might have a hard time navigating a steady, predictable 50-50 child custody arrangement. It could, for example, be better for you to schedule your parenting time each week as you go and you might have to spend a little less time with your kids.
  • The parents can't agree on anything and they're constantly fighting: When two parents cannot agree, it's going to be very difficult for them to be co-parents together. To avoid constant fighting and stress for the children, judges might not allow two constantly-fighting parents to share child custody.

There are a lot more reasons why a 50-50 child custody plan might not work, such as the parents needing to live too far away from one another or when one parent isn't fit physically, emotionally or financially to care for the children. Regardless of your situation, rest assured that you can devise a parenting plan to fit your family's needs.

Source: Findlaw, "Joint Custody," accessed June 15, 2018

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