Equal Shared Custody—Pros and Cons

The Advantages and Disadvantages of 50/50 Parenting

Equal Shared Custody—Pros and Cons Historically, in the aftermath of a divorce, when there were minor children in the home, one parent was granted primary physical custody and the other parent was accorded rights of visitation, typically bringing the child into his or her home every other weekend, alternating holidays and on other agreed-upon occasions. That approach, however, is changing, as more an more states are enacting laws that allow for “equal parenting,” where the minor children spend half of their time with each parent. New Jersey allows such an arrangement.

On it’s face, it may seem like the most equitable way to resolve custody issues. Typically, both parents want to play a meaningful role in the growth and development of their children. But equal parenting does not come without its challenges and its detractors. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages.

The Benefits of Equal Shared Parenting

Studies indicate that when minor children spend approximately the same amount of time with each parent:

  • They have higher self-esteem, better school performance, and better emotional, behavioral and physical development
  • They have a broader perspective on the world, due to the differences inherent in each household
  • There are fewer gender-based assumptions about parenting for all parties involved
  • Parents tend to work more cooperatively, provided there is no fundamental conflict or animosity

Opponents of equal shared parenting fear that:

  • Sharing custody equally typically eliminates child support and may leave children without adequate financial resources
  • Children may struggle to have a sense of belonging anywhere, feeling instead that they are visitors in both homes
  • Where there is a fundamental level of discord, the frequency of contact between the parents can be problematic
  • Mandating that the child spend an equal amount of time with each parent does not accurately replicate what happens in most intact homes…it’s customary for a child to spend significantly more time with one parent than the other.

Contact the Law Office of David M. Lipshutz

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