June 27th, 2022
When your life is turned upside down by divorce, it can be so hard to think clearly.
It feels like there are millions of things to untangle and sort through, and each one is swirling through your mind fighting for your attention.
And in the midst of all that chaos is the most important decision you’ll have to make: your custody arrangement.
This decision will have a long-lasting effect on you, your kids, and your ability to rebuild your life. It’s really important to understand your options and what they mean for you years down the road.
Trust me, you don’t want to dig yourself further into the hole with your ex…
So let’s quiet all of those other demanding questions. Don’t worry… they’re not going anywhere. You’ll be able to address them later. 😉
Make some space to tackle this big-ass topic.
Okay, let’s dive in.
What is shared custody, exactly?
This is when both parents have equal parenting time.
Times have changed. Gender roles have blurred. And it doesn’t make sense anymore for kids to just visit their dads on the weekends.
This archaic arrangement isn’t considered best for the child anymore, either. It’s simply unrealistic.
It’s more and more common to see an equal split these days, and for good reason!
There are many benefits making this lifestyle more desirable to the modern couple, such as:
- Parents function more as a team, putting their kids at the center — not the middle — of their divorce.
- Kids have higher self-esteem when both parents are equally present.
- They also perform better at school when both parents are more involved in their upbringing.
- Your kids will be well-rounded. Their lives are enriched by the diverse experiences offered by two different homes.
And, BONUS: Setting this example helps your child eliminate gender assumptions. Tiny feminists for the win!
It goes without saying that shared parenting works best when parents are able to communicate in a healthy way.
That means setting aside ego and personal agendas… 👀
Luckily, this is a learned skill and can be developed just like anything else in life.
Pro tip: for respectful communication, make sure you’re avoiding John Gottman’s Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling when talking to your ex.
How do you determine the best 50/50 custody schedule for YOUR life?
This is when you take a good look at what is actually realistic for you and your ex.
What do your work schedules look like? How far apart do you live from each other? What are the kids’ school schedules? What activities are they involved in?
These are all things you’ll need to consider as you hammer out a schedule.
You can find tons of schedule examples online for a starting point, but you’ll really need to assess your own situation and rely on communication with your ex for the perfect solution.
Why is shared parenting better for mothers?
Best-selling author, Emma Johnson, says an equal split of parenting time would make divorce more equitable.
I couldn’t agree more.
When we fight for more parenting time because we’re “the mother”, it keeps us subjugated. We stay in a state of financial dependency.
THIS is partly why we have a wage gap, y’all.
It all starts during the marriage. When we make the choice to stay at home and raise our children, we also make the choice to leave the workforce.
We trade advancing our careers for taking on the majority of parenting responsibilities. And we provide our spouses with the opportunity to continue to build momentum professionally and increase their income.
We’re investing equally in a partnership agreement with our spouses.
But when we get divorced, there is NOT an equal return on that investment.
In fact, when women get divorced, we experience a 20% decline in income. People may think that women make it out better financially in divorce, but our quality of life actually decreases drastically.
After the split, men generally see a 30% increase in income. And we’re left with the task of rebuilding our lives… but right off the bat, women are already at an unfair disadvantage.
An unequal parenting schedule only adds to this financial disparity — and it can be extremely damaging to a woman’s ability to establish financial independence.
Our instinct tells us to fight for more parenting time because that’s what our kids are used to. We want to maintain that connection with them (that’s wonderful and beautiful, by the way!).
And patriarchal myth says that we should aspire to this kind of role. But I want you to look at how it’s going to affect you long-term.
Unequal parenting time will perpetuate your financial dependence. AND your singlehood. You won’t have a single damn day off!
Do you really want to sacrifice your ability to rebuild your life to support your ex’s ability to get ahead at work? Or for him to go out and meet people?
Hell no! 🙅🏻♀️🙅🏻♀️🙅🏻♀️
When you fight for more parenting time, you’re trading your future for his.
Think about how much further ahead you could get in work if you had 50% of your time to dedicate to it. You’re able to invest your energy into something that serves your family well.
“But he doesn’t know how to take care of them.”
“He doesn’t know how to feed them.”
“He doesn’t know how to get the kids ready for school.”
Guess what? He’ll fucking FIGURE IT OUT. He’s a grown-ass man.
We’re not here to perpetuate weaponized incompetence. That only holds us back.
Only when we release control and take our hands off the wheel will we start to see that they really are capable of doing this.
When you SHOULDN’T fight for 50/50
There are times when shared parenting just doesn’t make sense.
When you’re breastfeeding, you obviously need full custody of your child. But I suggest getting it in writing that you will shift the parenting agreement and ease into shared parenting as the child gets older.
While joint custody with a jerk is possible (albeit difficult), when the line of safety is crossed, shared parenting is out of the question. This arrangement is only an option if it’s *completely safe* for your children.
If there’s active alcohol or drug abuse going on… that’s an automatic NO. When there’s a real psychological or physical danger to your kids under your ex’s care, do everything in your power to keep them safe.
In an ideal world, you’d fight for (and receive) full custody of your children. In reality, you’ll have to have actual proof of your co-parent’s addiction and the danger it presents to your children. One way to feel secure that your co-parent isn’t drinking while your children are in their care is to use an alcohol monitoring device, such as Soberlink.
I know there’s a lot to consider. I know it feels overwhelming. I know you desperately want to just make the right decision for yourself and your kids.
Just remember to BREATHE and take advantage of resources that can help you along the way.
For more helpful information about kids and divorce, check out my free Mini Course.
It’s messy now, but it won’t be forever, love.