Determining child custody is difficult. Whether you are going through a divorce and need to make arrangements, or you have been successfully co-parenting but need to make a change, this type of family law matter is challenging at best. If you are considering shared custody of children, however, we have a few best practices to make the experience less challenging and more productive for everyone.
Try to Agree Early On
If you and the other parent can agree on arrangements for the shared custody of your children (i.e. one person gets Mondays and Tuesdays, the other gets Wednesdays and Thursdays), then you can avoid having to go to court. If you cannot agree on joint custody, then the court will have to make decisions about child custody for you. This may or may not work out the way you prefer. It also costs you in time, money, and emotional stress.
Don’t Use Shared Custody in Lieu of Child Support
In California, “the amount of time each parent spends with the children will affect the amount of child support.” Usually, child support payments decrease as the amount of time spent with children increases.
Unfortunately, some individuals claim they need more time with their children in order to avoid paying child support. If you are going to share custody of your children, then be sure you are doing it for the right reasons.
Be Realistic about the Time Share
If you are considering joint custody, then you probably want to get as close to 50/50 as possible with the time shared. Realistically, you may find that it ends up being 75/25 or something similar. Younger kids may be easier to coordinate 50/50, but older children often have extracurricular activities you have to work around. Be protective of your time, but be honest with each other about what makes the most sense for your kids.
If you find that you are unable to agree on arrangements for shared custody of children, then you may want to head over to our section on family law for some information on child custody. Families with modest incomes can obtain legal representation at reduced rates when qualified through the Modest Means Program.