Is equally shared custody always the best arrangement?

No custodial arrangement is ever suitable for all types of families and living situations. Shared custody arrangements with 50/50 parenting time splits are no exception. A 50/50 parenting time split can disrupt the existing natural relationships children already enjoyed with their parents. When parents live a great distance apart, 50/50 splits can also put unreasonable burdens on the children and become downright impractical.

One Psychology Today article shares that some children have a difficult time adjusting to this proposed “fairness” of compelling them to spend equal amounts of time with mom and dad. It is especially difficult when this was not the natural relationship that existed before the divorce. Most children have a preference for one parent over the other based on how well either parent meets their emotional needs, which can also change over time.

In some instances, children find themselves parenting the parent who does not meet their psychological needs. This is often the parent who becomes overwhelmed by the divorce or is not fully capable of taking care of themselves. They might struggle with working outside of the home or may struggle with taking care of household needs. Some parents struggle with both. This can cause psychological harm to children.

Children in these scenarios describe feeling pressured and exhausted. They may suffer from depression and anxiety, causing issues with self-evaluation and their academic performance. Some begin to feel unrooted because they have no specific place to call home, and so, they lose the stability they once had.

That said, there are also children who thrive in these environments, particularly when parents do not live far apart and they maintain an amicable or civil relationship. These children enjoy moving between both parents. Many either always had a 50/50 relationship split with parents or were eager to develop that relationship with an equally eager parent.

It is important to have honest discussions with your children to see where they fit on the spectrum. This helps you to make a decision based on their needs and emotional well-being as opposed to either parent’s desire to see the children 50% of the time.