Whether you are facing a divorce, requesting a change in custody, or updating your parenting plan, working with the other parent is typically in your child’s best interest. However, that may be easier said than done.
When it comes down to creating a parenting schedule that works for all parties involved, there may need to be flexibility. Some parents settle custody arrangements together rather than leave the decision to a judge.
This requires creating a parenting plan that both parents agree to. The parenting plan becomes part of your final judgment if approved by a judge.
Type of Schedule
The first step in creating a parenting plan is determining custody arrangements. Custody can be shared or the responsibility of one parent and can be physical or legal.
Physical custody determines where the child physically resides. Sole physical custody applies when a child lives with one parent more than 60 percent of the time.
Joint physical custody is an arrangement where the child regularly lives with both parents. The child lives with each parent at least 40 percent of the year under shared joint custody.
Legal custody can also be joint or sole. The parent with legal custody can make decisions regarding a child’s health, education, religion, and welfare.
Once the type of custody is determined, a schedule can be made to meet custody parameters.
When creating a parenting schedule, circumstances will need to be clearly defined. Start by outlining how parents will split time on weekdays, weekends, during school breaks, and on holidays and special occasions. Circumstances such as when each parent can take the child on vacation should also be included.
Specify when or if the parenting schedule can be altered, for example, if the holiday schedule overrides the regular schedule. The schedule should also specify vacation details such as trip length, how far in advance the other parent needs to be notified, what to do if a planned trip interferes with the regular schedule, etc.
Clearly written schedules use language that includes specific days of the week, dates, and times. Schedules should be worded to work for any year.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when creating your parenting schedule. Some popular schedule formats are outlined below.
To ensure each parent spends 50 percent of the time with the child, you can create a 3-4-4-3 schedule. Parent one gets the child for three days, and then parent two gets the child for four days. The following week parent one gets the child for four days, and parent two gets three.
Another option for 50/50 sharing is the 2-2-3 schedule. Each parent gets the child for 2 days, then the first parent gets 3 days. Then the schedule switches the following week.
For families where one parent has sole custody, but the other parent still has visitation, it’s common for the child to spend weekdays with the sole custody parent and weekends with the other parent.
While creating a parenting schedule can seem daunting, having a detailed plan will help elevate stress in the future. Not every couple will come to an agreement regarding custody, and the court will have to intervene.
No matter what the final outcome is or how it is decided, the child’s best interest will always come first.
Whether you need to go to trial to help define your parenting schedule or you’re ready to ask for court approval of an agreed-upon plan, call me to help facilitate your legal family needs at (508) 752-2727 to discuss your divorce, parenting plans, and or child custody options.