50/50 Custody Schedule in California Explained (2024)

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Jul 11, 2023

Objectively, it’s easy to argue that a 50/50 custody schedule between parents following a divorce or another custody scenario is going to be the fairest arrangement. It’s important to recognize, though, that such a schedule can often be challenging to make work. It’s critical that parents have a strong understanding of what to expect. Hopefully, that understanding will allow them to prepare in a way that takes all the relevant factors into consideration. Working with an experienced child custody lawyer can be very helpful in ensuring that nothing major is missed in the planning phase.

Making 50/50 Schedules Work

A 50/50 parent schedule relies on the ability of both parents to operate collaboratively with each other. More often than not, this requires a situation where the parents are no longer together but are also still able to communicate with each other, rely on each other, and allow each other some grace when the unexpected arises. There are situations where this can work. The willingness of the parents will determine a lot in regard to that being the case. It’s also important to recognize that, even if the schedule can be made to work for the parents, a judge still might not approve it. Their duty is to determine what is in the child’s interests, and if they feel that the only schedule that works will be too disruptive to the child’s life, they may order something slightly different. An experienced custody attorney, though, can help you prepare a schedule that addresses those concerns.

Kinds of 50/50 Schedules

The courts offer a lot of flexibility in what kind of a 50/50 schedule they will consider. All they require is that it be optimal for the child’s welfare. Some of the schedules that parents have used include:

  • 2-2-3 – The child spends the first two days with one parent, the next two with the other, and the final three with the first again. The schedule then flips the following week.
  • Mid-Week Split – On the afternoon of a particular day each week, after three and a half days in one parent’s custody, the child then spends the rest of the week with the other parent.
  • Alternating Weeks
  • Alternating 2 Weeks
  • Alternating Every X Number of Days
  • Alternating 3:4 and 4:3 – The child spends the first three days with one parent, then the next four with the other. The following week, they spend the first four with one parent and the next three with the other.


Q: Is All Joint Custody in California 50/50?

A: Joint custody means that both parents are equal in terms of the parenting of the child. Joint legal custody does not pertain to the child’s schedule with the parents. Instead, it is about the decision-making rights of both parents regarding how the child will be raised from an educational and religious standpoint as well as other things like medical decisions. Joint physical custody describes the relationship of the parents with the child’s physical location. In the case of joint physical custody, 50/50 might be considered the ideal, though it’s understood that this is not always possible. There are plenty of cases where it is still considered joint physical custody, even if the split ends up being something like 60/40 or even 70/30.

Q: Will a 50/50 Schedule Mean No Child Support?

A: A 50/50 schedule does not mean that child support will not need to be paid. As with all things related to children in a divorce, the child’s welfare will come first. Child support is not based on providing the lower-earning parent with what they need but rather ensuring that, wherever the child is residing, there is no disruption to the share of income that is going toward their welfare. Even if time is being split evenly, if there is a disparity in income, child support will be awarded to ensure that the child’s needs are met evenly in both of the places where they will reside.

Q: What Is the Schedule for 50/50 Custody in California?

A: 50/50 custody is about making sure that there is an even split in time with the kids for both parents. There is plenty of flexibility around what kind of schedule that the parents can put together. However, it must be said that the judge will look to ensure that the welfare of the child is considered first. Therefore, it’s important to build the schedule around the needs of the child and adjust the parents’ schedule to meet the child’s needs. Some schedules that have been used include:

  • Alternating weeks
  • Alternating two weeks
  • Splitting the week in half on a particular day (for instance, the child spending Sunday through Wednesday afternoon with one parent and Wednesday afternoon through Saturday night with the other)
  • Alternating every two days
  • Spending the first two days of the week with Parent A, the next two with Parent B, and the final three with Parent A, then inverting that the next week
  • Spending three days with one parent, then four with the other, and alternating the following week

Q: How Can 50/50 Custody Succeed?

A: A 50/50 custody schedule can be challenging to make work, but it can be done and can succeed. It’s important, though, that both parents be willing to cooperate with each other to make it work. There needs to be open communication and the ability to manage unforeseen issues with patience. This means that a 50/50 schedule is not for everyone, as the relationship through and after divorce might be such that this kind of communication is not possible. It is also important to consider factors like drive time and the child’s schooling and activities when trying to put together a schedule.

A Good Legal Team Can Help You Pursue a 50/50 Custody Schedule

A 50/50 custody schedule may often be the ideal solution in the parents’ minds, but the practical nature of pulling off such a schedule can be difficult to ensure. More often than not, parents unfamiliar with trying to coordinate such a schedule can miss potential problems.

That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced custody lawyer. At Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, we have seen examples of issues that can emerge when trying to arrange a custody schedule and can help parents address them in the planning stage. Additionally, a judge will always want to see that the schedule is appropriate for the child’s welfare, not necessarily what is optimal for the parents. We can help you craft a plan that addresses this concern. If you are trying to put together a 50/50 custody plan with the other parent of your children, contact us today.

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