Join Date: Nov 2007
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I read the thread in single parenting, and it definitely painted 50/50 situations in a negative light. It isn't always as terrible as it sounds. This is a pretty long answer, but it is something that our family has been living for the last few years. We set up our lives to make this work - every decision that we've made has taken into account that it was vitally important to DH that he be a large part of his daughter's life. The transition to get to 50/50 and then the legal negotiations to cement it seemed to take over sometimes. It has only been since last fall that we've felt that we could just live life without focusing on it.
It works for us. For the most part. It works just as well (if not better) than when DSD was only with us EOW weekend.
In our situation, it works for a few reasons:
-We started when DSD was pretty young - she wasn't quite 4 yet. She doesn't really remember me not being around, and definitely doesn't remember her parents ever being together. She doesn't even remember much before the 50/50 change (which happened gradually over time). It probably would have been more difficult had the change to 50/50 happened when she was older and already in school.
-All of the adults get along. Even if we aren't getting along, we still make it work for DSD's sake. I know that on our end, DH makes a point to not bring up the small annoyances (like the lack of hygiene at the other house) to keep the peace. He'll weigh carefully whether or not it is worth bringing an issue up. I am guessing that DSD's mom does the same thing.
DH and DSD's mom meet monthly to discuss things, and I think that this is pretty vital. They talk between each other instead of passing messages through DSD. Some weeks, they talk on the phone almost daily. It would be really difficult to do 50/50 with no communication between houses.
The fact that DH and DSD's mom's romantic past is so firmly set in the past at this point is also helpful. Both of them at this point are somewhat in the "I can't believe I ever dated you" camp. The lack of tension over adult relationship matters makes it so they can just focus on the child-related ones.
-We are all involved in DSD's life. We all go to school events. We do birthdays and Halloween together. The fact that everyone gets along helps a lot here. DSD's sister (not DH's child) spends time with us about once a month - she is like an extension of our family, too.
-We live pretty close together.
-We have (on paper, at least) a very easy schedule - week on, week off, switching Friday after school so DSD has the weekend to adjust to being at the new house. I met people with crazy schedules (Monday and Tuesday at Dad's, Wednesday and Thursday at Mom's, then EOW at each house). As an adult, I'd have trouble keeping that straight. Also, switching at any less than a week would leave DSD never "settled." A week gives her enough time to get into a groove at whatever house she is at.
-She has two of everything. No worries about leaving this or that at the other house. Wherever she arrives, she has everything that she needs.
-We follow a similar diet at both houses - vegan. We are a little more strict and do not deviate when we eat out, but the similarities vastly outweigh the differences.
-It is nice because it allows DSD to have a true sibling relationship with all of her siblings. Technically, she doesn't have any "full" siblings, but we don't use the term "half" with regard to her sisters at her mom's or her brother (soon to be brothers) with us. Her relationships with them wouldn't be the same if she was at one house EOW.
So it works, for the most part. Reasons that it is tough:
-The biggest reason that it doesn't work is that DSD's mom doesn't seem to be around that much during her weeks, which leaves DSD constantly missing her mom. Her mom gives us a lot of extra time (some of it due to work, some due to her social life). DSD is also watched by her sisters (or now her mom's DF) a lot during her mom's weeks. In this past week, she was at her mom's and her mom was around for 2 days of that week. We had her some extra time, and the DF was there for the rest. So although it would be easy to blame DSD's missing her mom on the custody situation, it would not really improve if DSD's mom had custody and DH had visitation or vice-versa.
-Sort of related to the above point, DSD's mom is often modifying the schedule. Although we are *supposed* to switch on Fridays after school, DSD has probably only actually gone to her mom's at that time a handful of times this school year. We've had a lot of extra weekends/kept her until Saturday morning or DSD's mom picked her up late Friday night. We never seem to hear about these changes until late in the week, and we are almost a little surprised when the switch occurs on time. I think that it would be easier on DSD if things pretty much always happened when they were supposed to.
We do things a little different in our house - we tend to schedule things with the parenting schedule in mind. If DH and I have a (rare) date night, we do it on an off week. With the exception of our 2-day honeymoon, we have never taken a vacation without DSD (Her mom does this at least twice a year and it almost always requires some sort of modification of the schedule). I think that we have only modified things for our wedding and the birth of DS. And there may be a modification when I go into labor with DS2 (DSD's mom will take both DSD and DS1 for a night or two). I guess my point is that we save changing the schedule for really big things. Otherwise, we handle things like a nuclear family would. Maybe this will change for DSD's other house once her mom remarries. Maybe not.
In theory, DH and DSD's mom should revisit the parenting agreement because the schedule isn't working for one of them. But although we've had this schedule unofficially for years, it has only been set in legal stone for a little over 6 months. So no way are we in the mood to fork over another couple thousand dollars to get the thing modified.
-Although there are similarities between DSD's two houses, there are a lot of differences as well. DSD is the baby at her mom's (and is referred to as such) but is the oldest child at our house. So the expectations are probably a little different at each house as far as behavior and responsibilities. DSD's mom doesn't have her kids do chores, but we do. DSD's mom doesn't do allowance, but we do. DSD's mom is more free with screen time than we are. We have video games here, DSD's mom doesn't really do those. There are different definitions as to what "getting ready to leave the house" means at each place.
-The schedules within each house are different. We are fairly regimented here. Although he works a lot, DH works a fairly normal schedule. We set up our lives to allow him to be around as much as possible during the kids' waking hours. Family dinner is important to us. Bedtime is around the same time every night, and we follow a pretty set routine. DSD's mom's work schedule is more variable than DH's, so they have less of a routine at that house. DSD's mom also makes more spur-of-the-moment plans than we do - we tend to plan outings a few weeks or at least a few days in advance.
The thread in single parenting seemed to blame the adults a lot for not looking at what is best for the child. I am guessing that both DH and DSD's mom probably believe that having DSD at their respective houses most of the time would be the best for her. I don't think that either of those set-ups would truly work better for DSD. If her mom was the custodial parent and DH had visitation, she would probably be here nearly as often as she is now, just on a completely wacky schedule. DSD would never know if she was coming or going. If DH was the custodial parent and she had visitation with her mom, it wouldn't be enough time with her mom.
The bottom line is that overall, 50/50 works pretty well for us. It is probably the best possible set-up that DSD could have. Would it be easier if DSD lived here all of the time? Sure. But that is not something that her mom would ever be okay with. Are there problems? Sure, but the problems stem way more from the fact that blending families is tough than from the 50/50 schedule.
I was just lurking over in single parents ( I like to get the other perspective, lol!) and didn't want to jump in on their thread. So, do you think 50/50 custody is a good/bad idea, has it worked for you, did you want it, etc.?
I think it can work really well in some cases when both parents have been/want to be involved in all aspects of raising their child, although it is obviously not for everyone (parents or kids). I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences!
just have a moment, but Pinksprkly... I would love to hear more about how you transitioned your dsd from EOW to week on week off.
thanks everyone! We are not at 50/50, but are hoping for it one day. I know it won't work for everyone, but we think it would be a good fit for dsd. But, I was getting a little freaked out/angry (i.e. he only wants 50/50 so he doesn't have to pay child support about all the negative stories over on the thread in single parenting, so I really appreciate the positive stories I'm glad it is working out for so many of you and your kids! It is great that they get to have two homes and really feel that both parents are fully in their lives.
My dad's a family law attorney here in Indiana (where 50/50 custody is fairly unusual). He had a case a few years ago where a judge (known for thinking outside the box/being a wacko, depending on how you look at it) got so frustrated with a divorcing couple that he ordered them to do what you proposed: the adults switch residences every week and leave the kids where they were. That was really radical for our state, but my dad thought it was a marvellous idea and ought to be the norm! Unfortunately, I don't know how it worked out for them.
...there would have to be a lot of trust if the parents were to share one additional residence (your ex would have complete access to all of your personal business). I'd have trouble seeing a new partners going along with this arrangement, especially if the new partner had children as well. If I got along with and trusted my ex that much (and would be prevented from remarrying), I might be more inclined to just stay together for the kids. Or both parties stay together for the kids and have someone on the side.