Child custody schedules are one of the most important things to create during the process of divorce. North Carolina requires a custody schedule in any custody agreement. It is important to try and be in agreement with the other parent. If you cannot agree on a custody schedule, then the court will decide one for you. Although there are a few common custody schedules, the best custody arrangement is the one that best fits your family and your unique circumstances.
Types of Custody Schedules
There are many different types of custody schedules and none are a one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on the custody appointed to each parent, these schedules can look very different. The biggest things that must be determined in a custody agreement are:
- Where the child will be each weekday or weekend,
- Which parent has custody on holidays and special occasions, and
- What the schedule will be for school and summer breaks.
The most common custody arrangements are a 50/50 custody schedule, or more commonly called a “joint” custody schedule. This works best when both parents live nearby. This promotes an opportunity for the children to establish a bond with both parents. Usually a 50/50 arrangement comes in two main formats:
- A week on/week off schedule where parents alternate weeks. The exchanges usually happen on Sunday night or Monday after school. This schedule is better for reducing the number of exchanges and keeps things simple.
- A “2-2-3” schedule where one parent has every Monday and Tuesday, the other parent has every Wednesday and Thursday, and they alternate weekends. This schedule allows both parents the ability to see the children every week.
70/30 or 80/20 custody schedules are also common when the parents don’t live nearby or one works out of town, etc. This is usually arranged where the out of town parent gets every other weekend, or sometimes three weekends a month. Sometimes these parents will receive more time in the summer to “make up” for this reduction in time.
The most important child custody consideration is the age of the children. Infants and toddlers may need to go back and forth more often to establish a good relationship with both parents. Breastfeeding and work schedules, for example, are important factors in this. As kids get older, they rely on routines and consistency. Keeping a consistent schedule is important to the well-being of a child and must be taken into consideration in custody schedules.
When kids turn into tweens and teenagers, they have more active social lives and extra-curricular activity schedules. This requires flexibility between both parents and kids to minimize conflict.
Schedules and Lifestyles of the Parents
Schedules and the lifestyle of each parent plays a large role in determining custody schedules. Work schedules are an important consideration in custody schedules. If only one parent can pick up kids from school, for example, maybe the best custody schedule is for that parent to have custody of the kids for school days. If one parent works weekends or nights, then maybe the custody schedule needs to be a little more unique. As long as each parent agrees and can get equal parenting time, the court will likely agree to that schedule.
It is always in the children’s best interests for the parents to get along while co-parenting. While sometimes that is not possible, it is something to take into consideration in determining a custody schedule. Whether it is a common meeting point, having another person drop off or pick up the kids, these are issues that should be discussed and written into the custody schedule and agreement.
Most Important Consideration: Best Interests of the Children
At the end of the day, all of these decisions should be determined what is best for the children mentally, emotionally, and physically. Co-parenting is never easy, but it is important to make an effort for the sake of the children. Work closely with them in a civil manner to ensure fairness.
The best custody schedule should make sure the best interest of the children is the top priority, above all else.
Using a good attorney experienced in custody schedules can help ensure you make the best custody arrangement for your family. They can also have innovative ideas to help resolve these disputes without needing court intervention, and that work for your specific children.