It’s not the “amount” of time you spend, it’s the way you spend it with the children.
Meet Jack. He’s the father of two boys. Since the date of divorce, he has filed 12 motions in Family Court to increase his parenting time. As Jack sees it, there will be no justice in this world until he has custody of his sons at least 50 percent of the time. For Jack, joint custody means equal custody – exactly, precisely equal, fifty/fifty, split right down the middle.
Jack’s approach is flawed. He may ultimately succeed at getting the children for 50 percent of the time, but it will be a shallow “victory.” In fact, his boys are not likely to think more of him because he fought so hard for more time. They may actually be angry that their lives and schedules have become more disrupted.
Far more important than a perfectly equal time-sharing arrangement is to provide the children with a “meaningful” joint custody plan. Spending quality time and getting involved with the children, will have many more positive effects than simply having more time with them.
Perhaps you have met the parent who fights vigorously for equal time and then does nothing with it, once he gets it. Perhaps you know the mother who objects to increased visitation with the father while hiring babysitters three days a week because of her busy work schedule. Or perhaps you know the father who fights for more time, then leaves the kids at home with his fiancé while he goes to work during his visitation days.
Fighting for more time with the children only makes sense if you can remain actively involved with them, providing meaningful parenting time. Not every minute with the children needs to be a hands-on interaction, but it must be a responsible and enjoyable period of time spent together.