Child Custody and Visitation

What are some examples of parenting plan time-share (visitation) schedules?

A parenting plan describes the parents’ respective responsibilities for taking care of their child. A parenting plan includes the time-share, which is the schedule describing how the parents will divide responsibility for taking physical care of the child. A parenting plan will also include how the parents will share in other responsibilities, such as transportation, medical appointments, education, and other details.

A time-share schedule may be general, with the parents agreeing that both parents will have frequent and continuing contact with the child and the parents work out the details (i.e., dates and times) on their own. Or, the time-share schedule may be specific, which is the generally recommended route when parents have difficulty communicating or co-parenting. Having a specific schedule is not only helpful for parents, but for children as well – everyone will know what to expect and can rely on the set schedule.

The time-share schedule should be crafted with the child’s best interest in mind, taking into account the child’s age, school hours, after school activities, social activities, homework, bedtime routine, age appropriate need for sleep and rest, transportation to and from school and between parents’ residences, transportation to regularly scheduled appointments (e.g., weekly physical therapy or orthodontics appointments), the child’s personality, attachment bond with each parent, the need for frequent and continuing contact with each parent, and overall stability for the child.

Assuming an equal timeshare (i.e. 50/50), possible common time-share schedules include:

Alternate Full Weeks 7 days (week-on, week-off): Under this schedule, one parent will have the child for an entire week and then the other parent will have the child for the following week. Common exchange times are during the weekend or drop off at school on Monday morning. This schedule maximizes consecutive time a child has with a parent and minimizes the number of transitions/exchanges. This schedule has only 1 transition each week and may work well for older elementary school-aged children and teenagers. For example:

Week 1: Sunday at 7:00 p.m. until Sunday at 7:00 p.m. to Mom.

Week 2: Sunday at 7:00 p.m. until Sunday at 7:00 p.m. to Dad.

Week 3: Sunday at 7:00 p.m. until Sunday at 7:00 p.m. to Mom.

Week 4: Sunday at 7:00 p.m. until Sunday at 7:00 p.m. to Dad.

Alternate Weekends 5 days (2-2-5-5): Under this schedule, each parent receives the same two weeknights every week and they alternate the weekends. This schedule allows each parent to have the child for 5 consecutive nights every other week. This schedule allows for maximized consecutive time with a parent, while at the same time allowing the other parent some time during the week as well. The number of transitions increases to 3 per week; however, this schedule may work as a compromise for parents who feel the child needs longer periods of time with one parent but that the child should not go for a full 7 days without the other parent. This schedule may work well for younger elementary school-aged children. For example:

Week 1: Monday and Tuesday to Mom. Wednesday and Thursday to Dad. Weekend Friday to Monday morning to Mom.

Week 2: Monday and Tuesday to Mom. Wednesday and Thursday to Dad. Weekend Friday to Monday morning to Dad.

Week 3: Monday and Tuesday to Mom. Wednesday and Thursday to Dad. Weekend Friday to Monday morning to Mom.

Week 4: Monday and Tuesday to Mom. Wednesday and Thursday to Dad. Weekend Friday to Monday morning to Dad.

Alternate Weekends 3 days (2-2-3): This schedule is similar to the 2-2-5-5 schedule in that each parent receives two weeknights every week; however, the two weeknights are not set nights, but rather alternate each week and the weekends also alternate. As a result, neither parent is away from the child for more than 3 nights in any given week. Although this schedule on its face appears to provide the least amount of consistency out of the given examples, it may work best for infants, toddlers, and preschool children who need frequent contact with both parents, but who also have difficulty separating from their primary caretaker. For example:

Week 1: Monday and Tuesday to Mom. Wednesday and Thursday to Dad. Weekend Friday to Monday morning to Mom.

Week 2: Monday and Tuesday to Dad. Wednesday and Thursday to Mom. Weekend Friday to Monday morning to Dad.

Week 3: Monday and Tuesday to Mom. Wednesday and Thursday to Dad. Weekend Friday to Monday morning to Mom.

Week 4: Monday and Tuesday to Dad. Wednesday and Thursday to Mom. Weekend Friday to Monday morning to Dad.

Every child is unique and every family is different. It is parents, not the courts, who know their children the best. Before having a court intervene, parents should try and work out their own schedule because that usually suits everyone’s needs the best – both the child’s needs and the parents’ needs.

Do you need help creating a parenting plan / time-share / visitation schedule? Call the Law Office of Christine Nguyen Thomas at (805) 351-8866 to meet with an Oxnard divorce lawyer for a consultation.

 

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