Examples of Joint Custody Schedules

Posted on June 28, 2024 05:28pm
Examples of Joint Custody Schedules

Shared Parenting Time Schedules: 6 Examples

Divorce or separation can be turbulent, and amidst the emotional upheaval, figuring out child custody can feel overwhelming. If you and your co-parent are committed to shared parenting, then a joint custody schedule might be the right fit for your family.

Here are six potential options when it comes to joint custody schedules:

1. Alternating Weeks

This schedule allows the child or children to spend one week with one parent and then the following week with the other parent, ensuring that both parents have equal time with their child. This arrangement is often appreciated for its simplicity and fairness, providing a stable and predictable routine that can be beneficial for the child's emotional well-being.

The structure of the “alternating weeks” schedule offers a balance that can help minimize the stress of transitioning between homes, as it reduces the frequency of exchanges. Each parent has the opportunity to engage in everyday activities with their child, from school routines to extracurricular activities, enabling both parents to remain actively involved in their child's life.

2. The 2-2-3 Schedule

Under the 2-2-3 rotation, the child spends two days with one parent, then two days with the other parent, followed by a three-day stay with the first parent. The pattern then repeats, but with the roles reversed, ensuring that each parent has equal time with the child over a two-week cycle.

For example, the child might spend Monday and Tuesday with Parent A, Wednesday and Thursday with Parent B, and then Friday through Sunday back with Parent A. The following week, the schedule flips, starting with Parent B.

This schedule is recognized for its balanced approach, allowing children to have frequent contact with both parents without long separations. It's particularly suited for younger children who may benefit from more regular transitions between homes to maintain a sense of security and attachment to both parents.

However, the 2-2-3 schedule requires a high level of coordination and cooperation between parents, as it involves more frequent exchanges. Effective communication and a strong commitment to maintaining a stable environment are essential for this schedule to succeed. Parents must be willing to work closely together to manage the logistics of school activities, homework, and extracurriculars, ensuring that the child's routine remains as uninterrupted as possible.

3. The 3-4-4-3 Schedule

This option provides slightly more extended stays with each parent. The child spends three days with one parent, then four days with the other, followed by another four days with the first parent, and concludes with three days with the second parent. This pattern repeats every two weeks.

4. The 2-2-5-5 Schedule

The 2-2-5-5 joint custody schedule is a parenting plan used to split child custody time equally between two parents. It's a good option for parents who want to maintain a close relationship with their children and share responsibilities fairly.

The schedule works as follows:

  • The child spends two nights with one parent, followed by two nights with the other parent (typically alternating Mondays and Tuesdays).
  • This is followed by a longer block of five days with the first parent and then five days with the other parent.
  • The cycle then repeats.

This joint custody schedule allows parents to have equal parenting time and provides consistency for everyone. The schedule is predictable, making it easier for children to adjust and for parents to plan activities, and each parent gets a long weekend with the child every other week.

Things to consider:

  • Can be disruptive: Frequent switches between homes can be challenging for young children.
  • Communication is key: This schedule requires a lot of communication and cooperation between parents.
  • Not ideal for long distances: If parents live far apart, this schedule may not be practical.

5. Alternating Weekends (or 80/20)

The alternating weekends or 80/20 joint custody schedule is a common arrangement designed for co-parenting situations, where the child primarily resides with one parent and spends every other weekend with the other parent.

The alternating weekends or 80/20 custody schedule is particularly suited for parents who live relatively close to each other, facilitating easier transitions for the child. It also tends to work well when one party has a demanding work schedule during the week, allowing the non-custodial parent to maximize their parenting time during weekends.

5b. Alternating Weekends with a Midweek Swap

This variation on the “alternating weekends” schedule allows for a midweek visit or overnight stay with the other parent, potentially for a school activity or special occasion. With this schedule, children get to see both parents more often than in a standard alternating weekend schedule, which can be beneficial for maintaining a strong bond, and the midweek visit helps to break up the longer period away from the non-custodial parent, potentially reducing feelings of missing out.

6. 2-Day Alternating Blocks

The two-day alternating block joint custody schedule is a unique approach to shared parenting that offers very frequent contact with both parents. With this arrangement, the child will alternate between each parent’s home every two days. This schedule can be beneficial for younger children who may struggle with longer periods of separation.

While the constant back and forth between homes can be a concern, this schedule allows for the most frequent contact possible between children and both parents. It is also important to note that parents may consider nesting to make the swaps less taxing on their parents; birdnesting is an unconventional arrangement where the children stay in the family home full-time. The parents take turns moving in and out according to a parenting plan, minimizing disruption for the children who maintain a stable environment.

Factors that Can Impact What Type of Schedule Works for You

But with so many options available, how do you choose the one that best suits your child's needs and your lifestyle? Determining the most suitable form of joint custody hinges on a nuanced analysis of various factors impacting both the child and the parents.

Here are some key considerations:

  • Child's age and developmental needs. Younger children often thrive on stability and routine. Frequent transitions between households in a complex joint custody arrangement might be disruptive. As children mature, they can adapt to more flexible schedules.
  • Parental capacity and availability. A parent's work schedule, distance between residences, and overall ability to meet the child's physical and emotional needs significantly influence the feasibility of different joint custody models.
  • The nature of the co-parenting relationship. Effective communication and a willingness to prioritize the child's well-being are crucial for successful joint custody. High levels of conflict can create a stressful environment for the child. If you wish to co-parent (or parallel parent), you should consider what schedule compliments the level of communication you wish to have with one another.
  • Sibling relationships. If there are multiple children, their ages and relationships with each other can influence the custody structure. Ideally, siblings should be able to maintain close bonds regardless of which parent's home they reside in at a given time.

Compassionate Child Custody Attorneys

McKinley Irvin has been helping families throughout Washington for over three decades, and our attorneys are prepared to help parents navigate their custody cases. Whether you are filing an initial custody petition, for modification of existing orders, or for divorce, our team can help you understand your legal rights and options and make informed decisions.

To schedule an initial consultation, contact us.

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