When parents get divorced, child custody is one of the most challenging things to decide. How much time should be spent with each parent? What if one parent wants more time than the other? These are tough questions to answer, and there is no perfect solution. With a better understanding of the options available, however, you can work with your spouse to devise a schedule that works best for everyone involved.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating a child custody schedule:
- The age of the children. This is probably the most important factor to consider when making a custody schedule. Small children, for example, may not do well if they spend more than a few hours away from their primary caregiver. Older children, on the other hand, can typically handle longer periods of time away from home. If you are dealing with children under the age of 5, there is more dependence on the custodial parent and less ability to adapt to change. However, if you are dealing with teenagers, they will likely want more independence and may not have any specific requirements other than a personal preference.
- The needs of the children. Each child is unique and will have different needs when it comes to a custody schedule. Some children may find it easier to visit their non-custodial parent if they have a regular schedule, while others may prefer more flexibility. It is important to consider each child’s individual needs when making a schedule.
- The parenting styles of the adults. Another important factor to consider is the parenting style of each parent. If the parents have different parenting styles, it may be necessary to adjust the schedule accordingly. For example, if one parent is more permissive than the other, the children may need more structure when they are with that parent. On the other hand, if one parent is more authoritarian than the other, the children may need more freedom and flexibility when they are with that parent.
- The distance between the homes. The distance between the homes of the parents is another important factor to consider when making a custody schedule. If the parents live in different states, it may not be possible for the children to be with both parents on a regular basis. These scenarios describe the importance of distance when making a schedule. If the homes are too far apart, it may be necessary to consider alternative arrangements such as summer visits or holidays. Often, a child will live with the parent who lives in their school district the most so that they can remain in the same school and avoid a long commute. To balance this out, the other parent may get more time with the child during summer vacations or on holidays.
- The work schedules of the parents. The work schedules of the parents are also an important factor to consider when making a custody schedule. If one parent works long hours or has a lot of travel, it may not be possible for that parent to have the child for a regular custody schedule. In these cases, it is often necessary to be creative with the schedule. For example, if one parent has an ever-changing work schedule and sometimes needs to pick up extra shifts, the arrangement will have to prioritize flexibility. The other parent may have to be available on short notice or have a more open schedule to make the plan work.
- The child’s extracurricular activities. The child’s extracurricular activities are also an important factor to consider when making a custody schedule. If the child is involved in sports or other activities, it is important to make sure that the schedule does not conflict with these activities. Often, it is necessary to coordinate the schedule with the child’s extracurricular activities to make sure that the child can participate in all of the activities that they are interested in. This is where you see many parents sharing custody of their children so that the child can have a more well-rounded and complete life.
- The financial situation of the parents. The financial situation of the parents also influences the custody schedule. If one parent is unable to afford the costs of childcare, it may be necessary for the other parent to pick up more of the slack. In these cases, it is often necessary to be creative with the schedule to ensure that both parents can financially support the child. Often, this means that the parent with the higher income will pick up more of the costs associated with custody.
- The preference of the child. It is also important to consider the child’s preference when making a custody schedule. If the child has a strong preference for one parent over the other, it is important to make sure that the schedule reflects this preference. Often, the child’s preference is based on which parent they feel most comfortable with or which parent they have the strongest bond with. In these cases, it is often necessary to ensure that the child has more time with the parent they prefer. This can be a difficult topic to negotiate, but at the end of the day, it’s the child’s preference that should be taken into consideration.
- The ability of the parents to co-parent. Finally, it is important to consider the ability of the parents to co-parent when making a custody schedule. More flexible schedules only work if the parents can communicate well and collaborate on parenting. Parents who simply cannot seem to get along may need a more structured schedule, as well as help with transitioning the children between each home.
When making a custody schedule, it is important to consider all these factors to ensure that the children always have a safe, stable, and healthy environment, no matter which home they are at. Often, it is necessary to be creative with the visitation schedule to make sure that all these factors are taken into consideration. To learn more about how to make the best custody schedule for your child, contact a local family law attorney today.