If a father in this position can’t figure this out on his own, he’s probably not in a position to be entrusted with exercising 50/50 custody. If a father wants 50/50 custody but can’t think of or describe to the court a way to make such a schedule work, who will have confidence in his ability to exercise it? That stated, we must acknowledge that for many fathers, a 50/50 custody schedule may be a new experience. Not impossible to do, but divorced and separated fathers do need reasonable time and accommodations to adjust.
50/50 custody does not mean that the parents must spend precisely the same amount of time with the children each day, week, month, and year. Typically (because the courts and legislatures realize that some parents may be the children’s primary or only breadwinner), “equal custody” or 50/50 custody means that the children spend an equal number of overnights annually with each parent. So even if the children spend more time during the day with Mom because she is a stay at home parent, as long as they spend an overnight with Dad for every overnight they spend with Mom each year (even if that means after Dad gets home from work at 5:30 or 6:00 p.m.), that’s considered equal custody.
Many fathers have to adjust to balancing their primary breadwinner role with more child caregiving and supervision. It’s not that such fathers cannot do this, they just need to be given the chance to adjust to the situation now that both parents don’t reside in the same household with the children. After all, the mother likely have to make adjustments in her schedule and life as well. She will probably need to work more outside the than she may have before the separation or divorce. The courts often (not always, but often) assume Mom will adapt to divorce without skipping a beat on the child care and custody front, while Dad often faces an “unfit until proven fit” presumption he has to work mightily to overcome six ways from Sunday.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277