Every child custody case will have a parenting plan that details the schedule each parent may enjoy parenting time with their child. The schedule is commonly broken into three categories: regular parenting time, vacation parenting time, and holiday parenting time. The parenting time schedule can be highly detailed or vague and ambiguous. The schedule can be rigid and inflexible or fluid and dynamic. A skilled family law attorney does not apply a one-size-fits all schedule to meet your family’s needs. Instead, the attorney will seek to meet the individuals involved in your child’s life and to understand the roles they play in order to better develop a parenting time schedule that is in your child’s best interests.
Regular Parenting Time
Because involvement by both parents in a child’s life enhances security and creates a safety net for your child, the courts will actively encourage involvement by both parents whenever possible. A Parenting Plan should focus on ensuring the children have quality time with each parent.
Unique Summer Schedule or same schedule for the entire year?…
Week on / off
- Exchanges: Sunday? Monday at school? Friday after school? Friday at 5:00 (to allow children to return to other home to retrieve belongings before the transition) Keep in mind the winding-down period for the child(ren)
- Minimizes stress for the child(ren)
One parent every M and Tu, the other every W and Th, then the F/S/Su block rotates between the parents every other week
- Allow for regular and consistent planning for weekdays as each parent will enjoy the same parenting time days every week
Alternating blocks that change every week.
- Allows each parent to enjoy a relatively equal number of parenting days each week
- Allows each parent to enjoy one weekend parenting day each week
Alternating short term blocks that repeat biweekly
- Ideal for young children
- Provides consistency and minimal time away from either parent during the week
- Allows for alternating parenting time weekends
Every other weekend
- Allows children a primary residence and quality time with the other parent every other weekend
- Weekends may begin on Fridays, usually after school, or on Saturday mornings
- Weekends may conclude Sunday evenings or Monday mornings by bringing the child to school or daycare
- Weeknight visits are common, allowing frequent contact between the child and the other parent
In addition to Regular Parenting Time Schedules, Parents must make important decisions about how other types of Parenting Time will be handled throughout the calendar year. Some examples include:
During the Holidays, the Regular Parenting Time Schedule is often modified to allow parents and children to celebrate special holidays and to enjoy special time with extended family members.
Summer Vacation and other school breaks are not only special periods for families when they can take vacations together, but also when other arrangements must be made for the children because they are out of school.
Not all parents live in the same city and as a result, creative scheduling is necessary to ensure that the non-primary parent enjoys substantial quality time with the child, usually during the child’s summer and holiday breaks from school.
Restricted and Therapeutic Parenting Time
Sometimes a Parent is struggling with challenges that potentially endanger the child and thus require some form of monitoring or supervision during the Parenting Time to ensure for the child’s welfare. Additionally, counseling or therapy may form an element in the parenting time one or both parents exercise with their child. This will necessitate a specialized schedule to allow for visits to the therapist for family or individual therapy.