As you and your ex settle into life after divorce, you move from emotional clashes to practical concerns. Parenting time schedules for shared custody parents represent the ideal for most families, since each parent has roughly 50 percent custody. The challenges come from maintaining that perfect bifurcation.
What Are the Benefits of 50-50 Custody?
When you and your ex strive to make shared custody work, you really do your children an immense favor. Experts writing at Divorce Mag cite these benefits to the kids:
- Children have better relationships with both their Mom and their Dad
- These kids do better academically, receiving better grades and enjoying school
- The children do better psychologically and socially
- Your kids are less likely to smoke, take illegal drugs, and drink alcohol
- Your children are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and other stress-related issues than kids from single-parent homes
Acknowledging your children should see their Mom and Dad in nearly equal measures is one thing; pulling it off is very different. If you and your ex communicate honestly and keep the children front and center in your planning, you can do it!
Shared Custody Factors to Consider
As you and your child(ren)’s mother work with your attorneys to iron out parenting time schedules for shared custody, you all will benefit from considering these factors:
- Consider your children’s ages and realize your schedules will have to change as your children grow
- Provide mental space for each parent to experience emotional regression, bouts of anger, and moments of resentment over the whole divorce and post-divorce details; use the discussion and mediation of the parenting time schedule to practice positive communication and cooperation
- Agree that the chosen schedule is the default, but that flexibility is okay, too, as extracurricular activities, illness, vacations, and holidays interrupt
- For times when you simply cannot have a scheduled visitation, give the other parent right of first refusal; you may have an instinct to contact grandparents, but perhaps Mom would love a few extra days with the kids while you recover from emergency liposuction
- Always refocus and view the proposed arrangement through your child’s eyes
Alternating Custody Schedules
By far the most popular arrangement for parents dedicated to shared custody is an alternating arrangement, as explained at Custody Exchange:
- Alternate one week at a time
- Alternating every two weeks
This method provides predictability for very little children. It offers stability for everyone, with fewer upheavals than other schedules. Children can truly settle into each household, knowing they will have uninterrupted days and nights with the one parent and the same sleeping arrangements for up to 14 nights.
Another alternating plan is, by contrast, a bit dizzying, but does work for some parents:
- Two days with Mom, two days with Dad, two days with Mom, and so on
That method layered onto our seven-day week means, every two weeks, Mom will have the kids for four visits; the next two-week period, she will only have them for three visits. Each parent will have an exclusive weekend with the kids every three weeks, with a split weekend between them.
Creative Custody Schedules
Moving beyond alternating weeks, parents with shared custody divvy up the week in creative ways:
- The 3-4-4-3 schedule — Your kid or kids are three days with you, four days with the other parent (that’s a week), then four days with you, and three days with the other parent (the next week)
- The 2-2-5-5 schedule — Your tykes are two days with each parent and then five days with each parent
- The 2-2-3 schedule — Your darlings are two days with you, two days with the other parent and three days with you; the next week, it switches
The Midweek Pit Stop
Attorneys and parents can fiddle with shared custody visitation schedules to take into account special needs children, very small kids, or homesickness. Adding a midweek visitation or even a midweek overnight visit can help allay fears in toddlers.
For example, suppose you adults all decide to alternate weeks. Then you realize you need to check the schedule through the eyes of your clingy three-year-old.
As the mid-week visitation schedule is explained by VeryWellFamily, your daughter wants her Mommy, and your dazzling bachelor pad be damned. So you build in a Wednesday visit with Mommy during every Dad week, for two hours. Of course, Mommy brings your daughter to you on Wednesdays during Mom week.
Under that schedule, no child goes without seeing the other parent a full week. It is equitable and provides for the emotional development of your daughter. You both realize you will revisit the schedule as your toddler matures.
Remember, both parents must strive for the best interests of their children, not scheduling convenience. No Virginia judge is going to allow your concerns about driving, bag-packing, or work hours to override the needs of the children.
For accurate, helpful answers to all your family law questions, contact us today at The Firm For Men, or telephone our Virginia Beach office at (757) 383-9184. We provide complete services for Virginia’s men, from separation agreements to divorce and more.