There is no defined set of custody schedules that must be adhered to when determining what works best for each individual family. A custody schedule should be determined based on the needs of the child(ren), the parents’ schedules and availability, the location of each parent relative to each other and the child(ren)’s school/daycare, and the child(ren)’s involvement in activities. When possible, and when appropriate, judges will put a schedule in place that allows the child(ren) to spend as much time with each parent as possible.
There are some schedules we tend to see as common options used by judges. Let’s explore some of those schedules, and factors that may lead to their implementation.
- One parent with primary custody, and the other parent with every other weekend visitation. This is often thought of as the “Dad Schedule.” While this was often the case several years ago, we are seeing this schedule used less and less in family court. Judges are trending more toward 50/50 or joint custody schedules. However, there are some situations in which this schedule may be appropriate or even necessary. Some factors that could mandate this schedule are the parents living a significant distance from one another, one parent having a living arrangement that isn’t appropriate for more consistent overnights for the child(ren), or one parent’s work or travel schedule requiring some weekend time.
- Week on, week off schedule. This is a straight 50/50 custody schedule, and one that we are starting to see more and more. Often times when this is the schedule in place, each parent will have a dinner or two during the week the child(ren) are with the other parent, so that the kid(s) don’t go a full week without seeing each parent. Some of the factors that would warrant this type of schedule are the parents living close to each other and the child(ren)’s school, the parents’ work schedules being similar so that the child(ren) stay on similar schedules between houses, and the parents co-parenting and communicating effectively with each other.
- 2-2-3 schedule. This is another 50/50 custody schedule, in which the child(ren) spend two weekdays with each parent, and then alternate weekends. This requires more back and forth between homes, but allows the child(ren) to see each parent more frequently than with a week on week off schedule. Some factors which may lead to this schedule being appropriate include the parents living close to each other and the child(ren)’s school and activities, the parents’ work schedules being similar so that the child(ren) stay on similar schedule between houses, the parents co-parenting and communicating effectively with each other, and sometimes this type of schedule is considered more appropriate for older children who can better handle the more frequent transitions between homes.
- One parent with weekdays and the other parent with weekends during the school year, and the opposite schedule during school breaks. This schedule also provides a joint custody situation, just with a different split of days. This schedule allows the children to stay in the same home during the school year, while still allowing ample time each week with each parent. It also allows both parents to have roughly equal time with the child(ren) through the course of the year. Some factors that may be considered when implementing this schedule are parents living in the same city, but more than 30 minutes apart or one parents’ work schedule requiring travel or longer working hours during the week.
These are certainly not the only custody schedules available. There are limitless possibilities of how custody can be set up, depending on all relevant factors. When considering what custody schedule is right for your child(ren) and your family, you should consider what makes the most practical sense to allow the child(ren) the most possible time with each parent (assuming both parents are fit to care for the child(ren)). An experienced family law attorney can speak with you about possible custody schedules and make suggestions about what may be appropriate for your situation.