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Factors to Consider When Determining the Custody Schedule

Here’s what you should consider when forming a child custody schedule.

Whether you are divorced, separated, broken up, or you were never in a relationship with your child’s other parent, sharing custody takes a lot of planning and coordination. A custody schedule is usually determined early on and may be included in your parenting agreement.

When determining the custody schedule, co-parents must agree on how much time the child will spend with each parent

Common custody arrangements include the 50/50 time share, the 60/40 time share, the 70/30 time share, and others. There are also several ways to split the days/weeks within each of these time share agreements, so that must be decided upon as well. For example, with a 50/50 custody arrangement in place, the child may spend half the week at one parent’s house and half the week at the other parent’s house, or they may alternate weeks between homes. There’s also the 2-2-5-5 split and the 3-4-4-3 split to consider.

The bottom line is, there are so many options when it comes to creating the custody schedule, which is why it’s crucial to consider what’s best for the child and the parents in this process. Here are some factors you and your co-parent should consider so you can come up with the best custody arrangement for both family units:

Mother playing with her son

Your child’s age

It’s important to take your child’s age into consideration when determining the custody schedule. For example, infants and toddlers need frequent contact with both parents, which may require quite a bit of back and forth during the early days of the custody arrangement. Alternatively, school-age children and teens may be better off with fewer transitions between homes, making a split week schedule, an alternating weeks schedule, or even an every two weeks schedule more appropriate.

Your child’s individual needs

Every child is unique. You and your co-parent should take time to consider your child’s individual needs and how these might factor into the custody agreement. Though all children thrive on consistency and stability, some kids may have a harder time with change and transitions. For these children, a custody split with fewer transitions between homes is key. Other kids may feel panicked by not seeing one parent for too long. In this case, the child will need a custody schedule with more frequent transitions between homes. If your child has significant medical or educational needs, these factors should also be considered in the custody schedule creation process.

Your child’s schedule/routines

Depending on the age of your child, they may already have regularly scheduled routines and activities that need to be factored into the custody schedule. This not only helps the child, but the parents as well. For example, if your child plays soccer and needs to be driven to tournaments on the weekends, but one parent works weekends, you would want to factor that into the custody arrangement.

Father and children playing

Your child’s siblings/other family members

If your child has siblings and/or other family members that they only live with in one parent’s home, this should be taken into account when determining the custody schedule. This is particularly important for blended families, in which your child may have siblings that also transition to other family units. It’s important to talk with your child and the other family members involved to make sure everyone’s time and feelings are considered in this process.

Your and your co-parent’s location

If you and your co-parent live close to each other, frequent transitions probably won’t be a challenge. However, if you live some distance apart, or perhaps in different states, location should be a huge consideration when creating the custody arrangement. It’s important to think about the time it takes to get from one home to another and how that might impact both you and your child. For tips on long-distance co-parenting, click here

Your and your co-parent’s schedule

You and your co-parent also need to take your schedule into consideration when determining the custody schedule. For example, if one parent travels a lot for work, it may make sense for the child to spend more time in the other parent’s care. If one parent works early mornings, late nights, or weekends, these schedules may impact their ability to care for the child at certain times, making these factors a crucial consideration in the custody arrangement creation process.

Parents ignoring each other

Your relationship with each other

Depending on whether you and your co-parent get along and what your situation looks like, the custody schedule and transitions may have to be set up in a certain way. Though your child’s needs and feelings should be taken into consideration if at all possible, your well-being is an extremely important factor that needs to be accounted for. In high-conflict co-parenting situations, frequent transitions may not be possible and are likely not best for the child or the parents.

These considerations should help you and your co-parent determine the best custody schedule for your families

Once you’ve thought through these factors, it’s important to agree upon the custody schedule and document it. If you and your co-parent need help coordinating custody matters, TalkingParents offers several helpful tools. Our Secure Messaging and Accountable Calling features allow you to discuss custody agreements in an organized, documented fashion. We also have a Shared Calendar tool, which can help you document, manage, and coordinate the custody schedule in one, secure place.

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