“I want 50/50 placement!”
We meet with a lot of individuals going through a divorce who come into the office and advocate that they want “50/50 placement.” To me, that is like nails on a chalkboard because it really tells us nothing. It is particularly annoying when they make the same advocacy to the guardian ad litem and/or the court.
“50/50” can take on many different meanings; 6 months with one parent and 6 months with the other parent is “5o/50 placement;” week on/week off placement is 50/50. 2 days mom, 2 days dad and rotate a thereafter is “50/50 placement.”
When someone advocates “50/50 placement” I am also suspicious that it is support driven, rather than children driven. Someone has told them that if they have “50/50 placement,” they pay less money in support.
The law in Wisconsin since May 2000 has been for the court to create a schedule that enables both parents to have substantial and meaningful periods of placement with both parents. There is nothing in the statute that has the words “50-50 placement, ” “equal placement” or “shared placement.” There is no statutory presumption as to equal placement nor is there a constitutional right to have equal placement of one’s children.
Courts are vested with discretion to come up with a schedule that is in the children’s best interest, and as stated above, involves both parents in creating a schedule that enables both to have substantial periods of time with the children. That does not always equate to equal placement.
Instead of advocating “50/50 placement, ” I tell these individuals they need to advocate a schedule that makes sense for the court to understand. Forcing them to do a parenting plan is a great tool to have a person critically think over issues pertaining to their children when getting a divorce; The parenting plan covers such issues as holidays, vacation time, where the children should go to school, how transportation issues should work between the children; how joint decisions are to be made, among other issues, but the most important aspect of the parenting plan is to develop a schedule that a parent is advocating for their children.
One of the more popular ways of doing a “50/50 schedule,” is the 2/2/3 or 2/2/5. schedule. It basically works like this, by example; Mondays and Tuesdays dad, Wednesdays and Thursdays mom, and every other weekend with either the return happening on Sunday evenings, or each parent keeps the child over night on Sundays and sends off to school on Monday mornings.
Advocating a specific schedule, with set days and hours, recognizing both parent’s availability depending on their work schedules, where they both live in proximity to one another, the children’s ages, where they go to school and whether before or after school care is required, makes the most amount a sense. A schedule is something that the guardian ad litem can understand and the court can appreciate.
If you expect to get anywhere in a custody battle when going through a divorce, not advocate “50/50 placement,” or “equal placement.” Rather, advocate a specific schedule that is well thought out, is reasonable, and recognizes both parents’ role and responsibility in the children’s lives. The person who advocates the most reasonable and logical schedule is the person who is most likely to prevail in court. The person who advocates an unreasonable, illogical or not very well thought out placement plan or simply advocates “I want 50/50,” is most likely going to fail in court with that position.
If you have questions about custody or placement, contact the experienced family lawyers at Karp & Iancu, S.C. today.