Child Custody – How do I determine how much time I will spend with my kids during and after my divorce?

This past September, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”) released a new publication addressing the division of parenting time for families going through divorce or separation. The publication, titled Child Centered Residential Guidelines (“AAML Guidelines”), is the product of an AAML committee formed to look for developmentally and psychologically appropriate parenting plans for parents not living under the same roof.

Who are the AAML?

The AAML consists of approximately 1,600 family law attorneys, referred to as “Fellows,” throughout all 50 states. The organization, founded in 1962, on its website it states its purpose as “[t]o provide leadership that promotes the highest degree of professionalism and excellence in the practice of family law.” To become a Fellow of the AAML, an attorney must meet numerous qualifications, including the requirement that the attorney be able to “demonstrate substantial involvement in the matrimonial field and have endeavored to encourage the study, improve the practice and elevate the standards of matrimonial law” and be a practicing attorney for a minimum of 10 years certified in family (if applicable in the attorney’s state).

What is the current standard?

When parents share joint custody of their children but are living in separate households, formal or informal arrangements get made regarding the time that the child or children will spend in each respective parent’s care. The arrangement is commonly referred to as the “parenting plan” or “timeshare”. Although each case is different, when the parents have a 50% timeshare there is one typical parenting plan that stands out, which professionals in the field tend to fall back on as the generally accepted method for dividing time between parental residences. This plan is generally referred to as the “2-5-5-2” plan (or “2-2-5-5,” “5-5-2-2,” etc.). A typical 2-5-5-2 arrangement would look as follows: The child(ren) stay with Parent A for Monday and Tuesday, with Parent B for Wednesday and Thursday, consistently each week. Then, the parents alternate Friday through Sunday each week. So essentially, alternating each week, the child(ren) will be with one parent for 2 days and the other parent for 5 days.

Why isn’t the current standard good enough? Is there a need for this report?

By the AAML’s own description, they state that their Guidelines contradict “the generally accepted traditional alternating weekend visitation guideline followed by many courts throughout the country.” The AAML Guidelines are backed by current research in an attempt to address developmentally and psychologically appropriate parenting plans in the alternative to falling back on the traditional alternating weekend plan. The AAML hopes that this Guideline can serve as a national model when determining custody issues using the “best interest” of the child standard.

Attorney and AAML Fellow Ron Supancic commented on the AAML Guidelines, saying that they are revolutionary. He notes his belief that current custody statutes are more focused on parents and don’t focus enough on the best interest of the children. He says that conflict and violence between parents has been rising and that the AAML Guidelines provide insight into behavior and conduct with the hopes of creating a healthier and happier environment for children of divorce, in addition to providing sample parenting plans based on development.

See the full article from AAML Fellow Ron Supancic HERE

Stay tuned, readers! In part 2 of this blog, we will go through and summarize the AAML’s specific recommended guidelines.

We understand that this is a sensitive situation that could greatly affect your family and your relationship with your children, and our team can provide you with the caring and outstanding legal counsel you need and deserve. If you would like to discuss your rights under California’s child custody laws, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible.

Nancy J. Bickford, a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Please call 858-793-8884 to understand how she can help your child custody battle begin and end with keeping your kids where they belong: With you.

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