Many parents and courts agree that joint child custody is the best option for most kids. This often involves parents sharing the authority to make decisions about the child’s upbringing (joint legal custody) and receiving similar amounts of time with the child (joint physical custody).
However, it can be tricky to divide a child’s time in a way that both parents feel is fair. There are several parenting schedules that can allow parents near-equal amounts of their child’s time. The best one for your family may depend on your work schedule, the other parent’s work schedule, your child’s school and activity schedule, your child’s age, the distance between each parent’s home and other details.
Four of the most common parenting schedules, include:
- Alternate weeks: One of the simplest arrangements involves your child staying with one parent one week and the other parent the next.
- 2-2-3 rotation: This option involves the child spending two nights with you, two nights with the other parent and then three nights with you. The rotation begins again with two nights with the other parent, two nights with you and then three nights with the other parent. This option still allows parents to have alternate weekends with the child.
- 3-3-4-4- rotation: A rotation that involves too much switching can be overwhelming for young kids and can be disruptive to their routines. One less-disruptive alternative involves your child spending three days with each parent and then four days with each parent. This allows the child to spend every Sunday through Tuesday with one parent and every Wednesday through Friday with the other. Saturdays alternate between the parents.
- 2-2-5-5- rotation: Another way to minimize some of the switching your child has to do involves two days with each parent followed by five days with each parent.
Choosing the best parenting schedule for your family can be difficult, but remember, that there may be some room for creative solutions. For example, an alternating week schedule may work well for your family, but a whole week might be a bit too long for your child to go without seeing each parent. In this situation, you may consider adding a midweek visit with the other parent. The visit can be overnight or just for a few hours, as long as it is consistent.
Customized parenting schedules can be the best way to meet your child’s needs, but it is also important to also be realistic about your own schedule. It may not be in anyone’s best interest if you commit to arrangements that do not work well with your other commitments. For example, if you travel for work Mondays through Wednesdays, you may want to consider an arrangement that allows your child to be with the other parent on those days.
There are numerous factors to consider when negotiating parenting schedules, and the scheduling options can feel overwhelming. However, an understanding of some popular arrangements can provide a good starting point as you consider what arrangement will work best for your family.