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What Does a 50/50 or Joint Custody Agreement Look Like?

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Child custody litigation can be all-consuming – so, at Buckhead Family Law, we’re here to help lessen your load. If you have agreed to or have a court order for joint custody in Atlanta, you may wonder what happens next. The term “joint” custody refers to both the physical and legal custody of children. Physical custody dictates where the child lives and who takes care of them on a day to day basis.

Joint physical custody, or 50/50 custody, means that the child spends approximately equal time living with each parent. However, there are several different child custody arrangements that can provide for 50/50 or joint parenting time.  There is not “one size fits all” approach to child custody.

Different 50/50 Custody Options

One of the best ways to keep things amicable with joint custody in Atlanta is to create a color-coded calendar for each arrangement. This daily schedule can live on your phone for easy access and to avoid confusion. Each parent will be represented by a color, and you can overlap or select a different color for when both parents need to be present, when there is a school event, or when there is something for the entire family to take note of. It can help to combine this schedule with your own calendars, so you can spot conflicts immediately.

Practice makes perfect. Joint custody in Atlanta can be difficult to maintain if this isn’t something you’ve seen before. Initially, both parents will struggle, as will the children. But don’t worry – this is completely normal. There will be forgotten soccer uniforms and misplaced homework at first but with a consistent schedule, your custody arrangement will become second nature.

There are a few different options for joint custody – let’s break each one down.

Option 1: Week On/Week Off

Week on, week off is a great child custody schedule for those who live close together and want to share substantial weekly time with their children. It helps to spread out the responsibilities and ensure that parents get full access to their children. When the week begins is flexible and can correlate with your schedule. Most parents start the week on a Sunday, but you can do any day of the week – Wednesday is another popular option. The above depiction tends to be the easiest schedule because you can plan in advance and enjoy both workdays and weekends with your kids.

So, with this being a highly effective arrangement, why doesn’t everyone use it? The problem is that some parents cannot imagine spending a week without seeing their kids. – which is completely understandable. Another issue for some parents is proximity. One parent will always have to drive further to drop their kids at school, go to activities, or drop off the kids to the other parent. Another problem is that the same parent will tend to get the children for the same holidays, so these are things to consider in advance. Week on / week off with mutually agreed upon amendments is always an option as well.  

Option 2: The 2-2-5-5 

The 2-2-5-5 schedule allows the child to spend 2 days with each parent and then 5 days with each parent. This is a better schedule for kids who after school activities and need rides. It helps to even out the responsibilities and ensure that one parent isn’t doing more than the other. It also helps parents to be able to have their own lives – they aren’t giving up the same days or activities every week. It also has the benefit of consistency during the week, with a child always knowing that every Tuesday, for example, is with one parent, and every Thursday is always with the other parent.

The problem with the 2-2-5-5 schedule is that it can be difficult to remember and may cause some confusion in the beginning. You will need to track this schedule diligently on your phone and communicate regularly. It can also be a bit jarring for your children because they change homes during the week.  

Option 3: The 2-2-3 

If you are looking for another simple schedule, you may want to consider the 2-2-3. With this schedule, children will spend the first two nights of the week with one parent, then the next two nights with the other, and then back for three weekend nights with the first parent. The next week, the schedule changes so that the second parent gets the children more. This schedule may seem complicated, but it’s actually quite user-friendly and fair. Parents usually enjoy this option because they get their children on different nights and get every weekend off for some “me” time.

This custody schedule presents some problems with children who cannot handle or grasp what their schedule is. Younger children may struggle more than older children. It can also be a bit difficult if one parent has other children from another relationship who need to adjust to the schedule as well.

How to Make Joint Custody in Atlanta Work for You

At Buckhead Family Law, we understand every family (and their needs) are unique. But there are a few tried-and-true “tricks of the trade” that can make joint custody easier to maintain, so that everyone stays on happy, healthy, and amicable terms. 

Parents Cooperate and Communicate When Making Decisions 

Life gets in the way sometimes, even with joint custody. While you always want to be there for your child, sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. Maybe you have a business trip you need to go on, your child has a special event, or someone gets sick. Sometimes there will be holidays, birthdays, or other special occasions that you will want to share with your child even when it is not your day. Joint physical custody needs to take all this into consideration. Parents should focus on how to talk to each other and their children. In general, children do better if both parents are involved in their lives, so despite your differences, you need to learn how to work with each other, instead of against one another. 

Quickly Change Directions and Reevaluate If Something Is Not Working 

If you created a joint custody decision and it is not working, don’t panic! This happens every day. Try to communicate with your ex-spouse about what is not working and make the necessary changes. The problem could lie with the parents or with the kids. No one is going to be able to keep the same schedule forever, so if there is a major change in your life, do not feel like you cannot revisit the arrangement. As children get older, they will start to have a say in how they want to spend their time as well. Things change and so do custody arrangements!

Proximity Matters: It Helps If Parents Stay Close To Each Other 

Joint custody is much easier if both parents live in Atlanta or the surrounding areas. This is because the children will not have to switch schools, travel long distances, or spend a lot of time in transit. While you do not necessarily need to live in the same neighborhood, maintaining some closeness is helpful for the child’s sake. Staying close can also come in handy when something goes wrong and one parent needs the help of the other.

No matter what, joint custody is going to be difficult to navigate at first. The best thing parents (and kids) can do is be open with each other. Talk about your feelings and the struggles you are having and try to find joint solutions. While that is easier said than done, it is possible when everyone puts the best interests of the children in the forefront of their minds.

If you need to reevaluate your child custody agreement in Atlanta or you are just embarking upon your divorce and child custody journey, remember, you are not alone! This can be a confusing time in your life, but professional help is available. The Atlanta child custody lawyers at Buckhead Family Law are here to assist you with your case and help this be a positive turning point for your family. Schedule a consultation by calling at 404-600-1403.

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