August 16, 2015

The Fallacy of Fifty-Fifty Parenting

One of the most common requests we hear from divorcing clients with children, is that they want fifty-fifty parenting. What this does is collapse quantity with quality. The two are not synonymous.

When it is being said by a father, it commonly reflects a collapse of parenting time with child support. When it comes from a mother it commonly reflects an intention to be fair with the other parent to accomplish greater cooperation. However it is stated, it usually resides in some balancing of equities between mothers and fathers.

This happens because divorce is anchored in family law statues. In almost every case it signals a focus on scarcity rather than abundance.

We live in a society that perpetuates the myth of scarcity. We are exposed to it and inflicted by it from childhood. It permeates the essence of who we are, even in our best moments. When we find ourselves caught in the emotional challenge of divorce it is the default setting we will most likely operate from.

There are problems with this model:
1. It is NOT a universal truth.
2. It is a man-made myth.
3. It does NOT work
4. It has significant side effects.

Default settings suck us in without choice. When we function in an automatic setting we are unlikely to be aware our assumptions. Fundamental beliefs are the foundation for prejudice and discrimination. Automatic reactions are unlikely to have us be aware of what is happening.

We are, however, more likely to have anecdotal evidence to support these assumptions. Everyone has an opinion about what your options are, and how you will be taken advantage of unless you fight for your rights.

The theory of abundance, on the other hand, is a 180° polar opposite. Instead of coming from fear that there will not be enough to go around, it is the confidence that there is plenty to go around, and not fighting over who gets the bigger piece removes an impediment that serves only to perpetuate conflict. Abundance is a principle that lives in love.

How does this happen? Simple. By focusing on fallacy, we lose sight of reality. The significant issue is NOT about protecting parental rights, but rather providing children’s needs. 50-50 is arbitrary. How is it determined? By the month? By the week? By the day? By the hour? By the minute? By the second? You get the point.

More importantly, even if the time is apportioned in a manner that satisfies each parent’s need for equality, it has nothing to do with quality. In fact, it more often creates additional conflict for your child who may feel like a commodity to satisfy parental needs.

Each parent provides distinctly different qualities for your child that are essential to your child’s development and security. Those qualities do not live in mechanical denominations, and they vary among children.

Why would you want to restrict your parental role to 50%, when it is possible to be 100% engaged as a parent. Even in families who are married and living together, children seldom if ever end up spending 50 – 50 time with each parent. A child’s need and desire for contact with a parent typically shifts throughout their childhood. A child’s need at one age for more contact with mom or dad, is not an indictment of the other parent.

The greatest gift any parent can give a child is the unconditional reality they have two parents who love them and work together as a team. When this is accomplished, the schedule itself becomes less important.

Talk with any collaborative professional to learn more about how you can be supported in creating a full time parent involvement with your child.

Bruce Peck

Bruce is one of the founding members of the Collaborative Law Institute.
Back in the Wonder Years, this small group was trying to figure out what a new way of practicing family law might look like. Today the collaborative law concept has exploded, not just throughout the United States, but also internationally. For over thirty years Bruce has continued to hone his skills to provide the highest quality of services to family law clients. He helps good people make tough choices during difficult times.

Bruce is a laid back and easy going person who listens well to others. He is a shameless optimist who can always see possibility and opportunity. Being very curious by nature, he is a voracious reader. His love for words has drawn him into being an avid poet.

Bruce’s skills supports clients interests without alienating their spouse. When the parties reach agreement, it is not under duress. They have the time to discuss all decisions with their attorneys before signing the agreement. Once completed, the stipulated divorce is filed with the court for a default hearing in which neither party, nor their attorneys, ever have to set foot inside a courthouse. Learn more at

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