When parents are close with their kids and going through a divorce, they may believe that sharing time with their children equally makes the most sense and is best for everyone. That way, the kids can see each parent the same amount of time and not lose their connection with either of them.
However, kids moving back and forth too much can sometimes be disruptive to their lives and routines. Before you go to court, it’s important to know if 50/50 will be good for your kids and to understand all the possible ways to have equal or “substantially equal” placement.
When the court is deciding how to allocate physical placement, Wisconsin law requires the consideration of several factors. Assuming it’s in the child’s best interest, the court must set a placement schedule that allows the child to have regular “meaningful periods of physical placement with each parent” that maximizes the amount of time they can spend with each other while considering geographic and accommodation differences.
The law does not require that the placement schedule be divided equally to accomplish this task. Instead, the court is given discretion and numerous elements it can weigh to decide if a schedule is reasonable, allows children adequate contact with their parents, and is in their best interests.
What does 50/50 Equal Placement Look Like?
As this type of placement is undefined, there is no one exclusive way to divide time equally. Some parents have schedules with alternating weeks while others may have a 2/2/3 schedule where one parent has the child part of the week, the other has the remaining days, and then they alternate weekends and Sunday nights.
These schedules usually revolve around the school year, and parents can work out other arrangements for holidays and for spring and summer breaks. One thing to consider is that a 50/50 schedule may work when your kids are pre-school aged, and be unrealistic when they start school and need more structure. It’s also important to think about how close you and the other parent live to one another and your future plans.
Equal placement is usually more workable and less stressful when kids don’t have to travel far to make transitions.
The Pros and Cons
A distinct advantage to equal placement is that parents and children get to see one another more frequently. When kids and parents get to be together more often, they can maintain their connection, and parents can remain current on what is going on with their children in their daily lives.
A downside for kids is that having to go back and forth can be disruptive to their routines and schedules. Younger children rely on the stability of a planned schedule and “where their stuff is at,” and having to change homes mid-week or month can be problematic.
Older kids often have social interests and commitments that may conflict with the way their parents have arranged for their time together. When they have to alter or cancel plans with friends to change homes, it can cause resentment.