Equal Parenting Rights is NOT a Presumption of 50/50 Time

Equal Parenting Rights is NOT a Presumption of 50/50 Time By Joshua Katz

{3:30 minutes to read} The laws in NY include no presumption in favor of one parent versus the other. However, there is no presumption in the law that parents are entitled to 50/50 time with their children. While equal access rights do exist, it does not mean that each parent is entitled to exact equal time with the children.

There are a number of studies by both mental health professionals and legal scholars into whether or not 50/50 custody arrangements are in a child’s best interest and, for the most part, these studies show that it can be very healthy under specific circumstances. While there are many factors for parents to consider before deciding on joint custody, before the Court orders a split (50/50) residential custody arrangement, it is essential that parents:

  • are able to communicate effectively with the child(ren) and each other;
  • have similar parenting styles;
  • live in close proximity to one another; and
  • consent to the arrangement.

Without these 4 basic parameters, it can be very UNhealthy for children to be shuffled back and forth between two households – even if it might be preferable for the parents. Unfortunately, there are jurists who believe that the presumption of parents’ entitlement to equal time exists, and many judges support that concept. Interestingly, the only jurisdiction that I know of that ever tried such a presumption is Denmark, and they recently repealed it.

It is important for children to know where home is, and to have the sense of safety and stability it provides. As an attorney for children, I have had children tell me they are embarrassed when they go to school and their friends ask where they live; they do not know what to say because it depends on the day and on their parents. Not knowing how to answer basic questions makes it hard to schedule social activities or play dates. It is difficult for kids to have to think about things like that.

When custody arrangements aren’t based upon the best interest of the children, it can be difficult: I have one situation where I am the attorney for children who have been placed, experimentally, in a shared custody arrangement – alternating on a weekly basis between mom and dad. While both parents may be good parents, they absolutely do not get along and are incapable of communicating, which is adversely affecting my clients – the children.

If you are an attorney negotiating a parenting plan, I hope you never try to negotiate 50/50 time in an effort to reduce a parent’s child support obligation, which is borderline unethical. Ideally, an attorney should attempt to take into account the best interest of the children and not merely their client’s. Though, in truth, it is really not their job. Attorneys represent a client, and they advocate zealously for that client’s position. It is not their job to put the needs of the children first, it’s mine; I am a child advocate. That’s why I do this. To get started, contact Plaine & Katz, LLP today.

Joshua R. Katz, Esq.
Plaine & Katz, LLP
Queens Divorce Lawyers
Phone: 718-268-0279
Fax: 718-233-2610

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