The Dilemma of the Custodial Parent by Don Sinkov

{3:06 minutes to read} In most joint custody cases, the child primarily lives with one parent. The other parent shares time with the child around a schedule set forth in their parenting plan.

This joint custody arrangement, although very common in agreements, is not a slam dunk, and to the contrary, is more often not fair to the custodial parent. The majority of phone calls and/or emails I receive are usually complaints from the custodial parent, who, after several months, realizes that the child is with them almost all the time. The non-custodial parent might see the child one or two days a week, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. How many of you have heard this before?

I know it’s my weekend to take Harry, Jr., but let’s make it another weekend, because Harry Jr. is sick and he should stay at home in his own bed.

For the custodial parent the child is in school every day, except when they’re not. For example, if:

  • There is a snow day;
  • There is a holiday;
  • There is winter or spring recess;
  • There is summertime;
  • The child gets sick;
  • The non-custodial parent gets sick.

The custodial parent now has to:

  • Stay home;
  • Make arrangements for childcare if they are working;
  • Bring the child to the doctor;
  • Plan an activity so the child doesn’t spend the day in front of the TV or online.

The custodial parent often feels like the other parent got a way better deal. The noncustodial parent can pretty much come and go as they like while the custodial parent is on call all the time, parenting the child 26-28 days per month.

When you are agreeing to custody for your child and constructing a parenting plan, be realistic with the amount of time your child will “really” spend with the non-custodial parent. This way the child will benefit from a plan that contains more equal time with each parent.

Some recent law journal articles say that the courts are suggesting a shared custody model rather than traditional joint custody, i.e. dinner Wednesday night and every other weekend. I think we all realize, retrospectively after many years of writing joint custody agreements, that they often do not work for either the child or the custodial parent.

Let’s not keep doing the same old thing! We know that sharing equal parenting time is best for the children, so let’s make sure our agreements reflect that.

About Don Sinkov

Don Sinkov Your Divorce Mediator Westchester County, NY Putnam County, NY Phone: (914) 588-6258 eMail: