When you ask divorced parents who were unhappy for a while what took them so long to divorce, most of them will say they didn’t want to break up the family.
Which is respectable, understandable, and very common. But getting a divorce doesn’t mean you’ll lose your sense of family. It just means the definition of your family will change.
And some of that change comes in the form of a visitation schedule. Need tips or examples? Get them below.
Be Willing to Change
In life, and in divorce, there will be times where your pre-agreed upon agreement needs to shift. Like if you get a new job that affects the hours you currently trade children with your ex.
Or if they go on vacation or a work trip – there’s nothing totally set in stone when it comes to custody time schedules. Except, you know, their existence is signed into place by a lawyer.
If you want to succeed, look at your schedule as a school schedule. Usually, it’s the same and it doesn’t change, but sometimes there are things like assemblies, where you have to shorten classes to make time.
Stay flexible and reasonable. Just because you haven’t had to alter the time schedule yet, doesn’t mean it’ll never happen. Your ex will be a lot more willing to work with you if you work with them.
Ask the Kids
An unfortunate trend we see in custody is that the parents never talk to the kids about the schedule. We’re not saying you should ask them what they think the agreement should be, but you should ask them how it’s working.
Maybe your seven year old feels embarrassed when she has to bring a suitcase to class on Wednesday when she goes to her dad’s. Could you move to a weekend switch to help her with this?
Kids will adjust to the divorce a lot better in general if they see their parents willing to work together. At some point, you and your ex agreed that the kids come first.
The first step to that is making sure you’re listening to what your kids say!
And we know it can’t always be perfect. Sometimes you just have to switch on a Wednesday, due to schedules. But could you ask the school administration if your child can leave their suitcase/bag in the office?
That way they won’t be as embarrassed and they’ll feel like you listened to their needs.
Know Your Visitation Schedule Options
When you hear shared custody, what do you think of? Fifty/fifty splits?
Those exist, but they’re not even the most common kind of shared custody. Due to resources and job demands, a lot of the time parents end up with things like 60-40 splits.
Or even seventy-thirty. Once you get past seventy percent, most lawyers consider that sole custody.
But what do those schedules look like? We’ll give you some examples below.
So, the results of your mediation or a judge’s ruling have resulted in fifty-fifty custody. How you do it depends on your family.
Some people agree to split the week down the middle, but a week is seven days. That’s an odd number, so it’s never a completely even split. A fifty-fifty couple might agree that mom has the kids Monday through Thursday, which is a little more than half.
But to make it even, they may agree that the kids always do thanksgiving and easter with the other parent. You can be creative with your parenting plan.
Or you could make things a little more simple and do one week at one parent and one week at the other. If you go that route, you want to make sure your children have pretty much double the amount of personal items.
If they have retainers they wear at night at mom’s house, they’ll need one at the other house too. And they’re going to forget to pack it because they’re kids.
Having two sets of stuff will cut down on their responsibility and anxiety. Especially if your relationship with your ex is strained. You don’t want your child going without something because they don’t want to ask you to take them to go get it.
It’s more expensive, yes, but these are the kind of things you agree to when you say the kids come first.
Sixty Forty Custody
We looked at sixty-forty arrangements, when we discussed how one parent got four days and the other got three. But sixty-forty can also mean one parent gets weekdays and the other gets weekends and any long weekends.
It’s a little less important to double up on personal items in 60-40 households, but do invest in the big things – like that retainer. You don’t want to have to pay for braces again, right?
The parent who has thirty percent may not feel like they have a good “shared” amount of custody. But sometimes that’s just how it works out for everyone.
Like if one parent only has weekends off and works late at a demanding job. It may not seem 100% fair for that parent. But remember, it’s about making the best life you can for the kids.
These situations usually revolve around weekend vs weekday schedules.
Sole Custody Schedules
Unless one parent severely messed up or has issues they need to work on, sole custody isn’t usually 100%. More often, it’s something like eighty twenty or even ninety-ten.
That means your ex may see your child once a week, or get them every other weekend in a month.
Be Flexible – But Keep Track
Finally, when it comes to visitation schedules, make sure you’re writing down changes. If it’s just a short term thing like “I’m running really late, could you get the kids”? Then it doesn’t need to be in your official agreement.
But if your visitation schedule changes for the long term, then you need to write it on paper. That will keep you from having to go back to court were any problems to arise.
You can always use stipulations like “for the next three months while person A is working extra hours”.
Agreements can be changed, but make sure you do so with your mediator or lawyer. Don’t have one yet? We specialize in child custody, get in touch!