What Can I Expect When Deciding Child Custody

A guest post from Dr. Kristine Turner…

What can I expect when deciding custody or parenting time for my child?

Every family that divorces has to deal with where the children will reside. It’s a very difficult question, and it’s a question that causes many people a great deal of pain and consternation. Child custody or parenting time, as it is called in some states, is big business in this country. There are professionals that operate solely within the realm of family law or child custody law, professionals who do child custody evaluations (CFI/PRE), professional mental health therapists, judges and courts, advocates and special masters and mediators. It’s big business because people fight over their children. In many states the percentage of time you have your child is directly in accordance with how much child support you either pay or receive. Even when there is no child support transferred between parents, it’s an emotional situation because there’s a sense of pride, of win or loss in many parenting plans. “How can I save face when I don’t have one hundred percent custody of my children?” “What’s wrong with me if I don’t have at least 15 percent custody?” Fathers want at least 15 percent custody minimum, mothers often want much more parenting time.

Many years ago fathers were awarded the majority of parenting time. In the late 1800s fathers were granted custody of children because they were considered property. Next we witnessed the tender year’s presumption where mothers were given children because the presumption was that kids need their mother. Now, fathers have made tremendous gains to be seen as equal parents, and they want equal custody/parenting time. Yet mothers still feel that if fathers get equal parenting time there’s some kind of deficit, some kind of deficiency in them. So custody remains a hot topic today. If both parents are fit and want their children 50% of the time, it is likely that they can both receive 50% custody of their children. There are many avenues for getting help in determining parenting plans for your family. Two common plans are the week on/ week off plan, and the 5-2-2-5 plan, where one parent has the children Monday and Tuesday, the other parent has the kids Wednesday and Thursday, and weekends are rotated. If you are struggling with your plan, consult with an expert coach or mediator to help create neutrality between parties and customize a plan that works for you.