How Does Shared 50/50 Custody Work?

By Michael DiFalco

Child custody is not one size fits all, as there are many different types of custody arrangements possible. 50/50 custody is one of the most common types of arrangements, as it can give the child quality time with both parents equally. 

If you or the other parent are pursuing 50/50 custody, it is helpful to understand what to expect and what this could mean for you and your child.

What is 50/50 custody?

50/50 custody, or joint custody, means parents share custody of their child. 

50/50 custody most commonly involves sharing physical and legal custody as equally as possible. Physical custody has to do with where the child resides, and legal custody refers to the parents’ ability to make major life decisions for their child. 

When parents have shared custody, it typically means the child will spend 50% of their time with one parent and 50% of their time with the other, or as close to 50/50 as possible based on their work schedules, the child’s age, and other factors. Additionally, both parents share the right to make critical decisions for their children, including where they will go to school and what religion they will practice.

50/50 custody is common and often beneficial for children. We have many clients who feel this is the best way to share the joy as well as the responsibility of being a parent. We have drafted many 50/50 custody agreements for parents where that is the most appropriate resolution.

Factors Courts Use to Determine Custody in New York

New York is not a 50/50 custody state, meaning parents do not automatically get joint custody. Some states have a presumption of 50/50 and work backwards. New York does not. Instead, the court will use certain factors to determine the ideal custody arrangement for the child and parents. 

The list of factors the court considers is lengthy. It includes:

  • Where the child primarily resides
  • The relationship the child has with both parents
  • Whether the child has any special needs
  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs as well as facilitate a relationship with the other parent
  • Each parent’s schedules
  • The child’s preferences, if they are old enough
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health

The judge will review these and other factors, along with the details of the case, to help decide whether 50/50 custody would be in the child’s best interests.

Common 50/50 Custody Schedules

If the parties or the Court determines 50/50 custody is best for a family, there will need to be a schedule put in place. There are many different types of joint custody schedules, with some of the most common including:

  • Alternating weeks (full week on/week off)
  • 2-2-5-5 (2 days with each parent, then 5 days with each parent)
  • 3-4-4-3 (3 days with one parent, 4 days with the other, then switch)
  • 2-2-3 (2 nights with one parent, 2 nights with the other, 3 nights with the first parent, then switch)

There are many ways to create a custody schedule that works for both parents and the child. It is essential to maintain the schedule to allow the child enough time with both parents and create as much stability as possible. 

Is child support payable in 50/50 custody arrangements?

Even if parents share 50/50 custody of their child, child support is still required. The parent who earns more will be deemed the non-custodial parent just for child support purposes and will be required to pay child support to the other parent. Although there is a child support formula, often these 50/50 arrangements require a more nuanced approach including a potential deviation from the child support standards. 

A New York Custody Lawyer Can Help You Pursue 50/50 Child Custody

Aiello & DiFalco LLP is dedicated to family law matters. While our main office is in Garden City, our firm serves families in New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties. 

We understand every child custody matter is unique, and we tailor our services to suit each client and their needs. Our attorneys have extensive experience with child custody disputes and strive to do whatever is necessary to help get the fairest possible outcome. Contact us today, and let’s see how our firm can assist you.

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.