Sharing custody of your children will mean that you have respite time during which you are not responsible for any parental duties. After a custody exchange, your ex will be the one who has to get up in the middle of the night over a bed-wetting issue or pick the kids up from school before the end of the work day.
In theory, sharing custody could mean that you have more free time than you did before the divorce or the end of your marriage. However, in practice, shared parenting arrangements often put more pressure on your time.
You will have to frequently meet up with the other parent to exchange custody of your children. You may meet in the middle between your houses, at one home or even in the parking lot of a police station if you have to have supervised custody exchanges. How often will you need to travel to meet your ex and exchange custody of your children as a separated or divorced parent in California?
The age of your children determines the frequency of exchanges
Younger children have a harder time experiencing separation from their primary caregiver. They do not yet have a well-developed sense of object permanence and may experience per pound with distress during periods of extended separation. Your custody arrangements, including how often you exchange responsibilities with your ex, will reflect your schedules and the age of the children.
Infant and toddler custody arrangements often involve many, frequent visits. You may have to travel several times a week to meet with your ex. As your children reach preschool and kindergarten age, several days at once will be more feasible. Grade school children could go for half weeks, and children in middle school and high school could alternate weeks or otherwise have extended times with one parent and then the next.
You have control over how you schedule your parenting time
A 50/50 split where you alternate every two days will require a lot of travel and planning. A 50/50 split where you alternate weeks will significantly reduce how much money you spend on fuel and how much time you spend on the road. You and your ex can negotiate your own parenting plan so that the schedule reflects your availability and needs instead of asking a judge to make those choices.
Learning more about the rules for shared custody arrangements in California will help parents keep the focus on their children’s happiness and well-being.