When you are contemplating divorce, separation and then when it is actually time to take the next step, when children are involved the biggest question and concern is what about the kids? How will this work. Often at the time of separation, it forces us to reflect on our roles in the household. For example, who takes the kids to school, who organizes their activities, who does the homework with them etc. This exercises can force us to want something different, or to assume different role that we have in the past. If the parenting time is going to be shared it is now the opportunity to step up and assume different roles than were exercised during the relationship. often in relationship we have separate jurisdiction and it just works, or even if it doesn’t it has become the norm and we assume our roles. The parenting schedule can be as creative as you and your co-parent are open to. There are a few standard schedules that are more common. However when selecting a schedule you need to consider your kids and their needs. The schedule that may work for your friends family might not be right for yours. Often when discussing with clients when contemplating a schedule for example of 7/7 one week/one week, clients initial reaction is that is too long I cannot be away from my kids for that long. That is fully understandable however we need to shift the focus to the best interest of the child. Meaning what would actually be the best for your kids. We need to consider the time that it takes for your kids to get settled in after the transition from one home to the other. For example that is one of the harder things about a 2,2,3 or 5,2,2,5, is as soon as the child warms up and is comfortable to be back in that household it is time to change again. Another point that I have hear from children over the years and and my clients, is that some kids find it hard to keep packing up and bag and going back and forth.
For that reason 7/7 allows the kids to have time at each parent, have the opportunity to do school work with both parents, and live their day to day, without the frequent transitions throughout the week. That being said this is not a one size fits all, you know your kids best. Bets case scenario you and your co-parent design a schedule that will be compatible with your kids and which will promote them to thrive in both of your homes.
Below are different modalities for parenting time and the pros and cons of each scenario to consider:
Option 1: Alternating Weeks (one week/one week 7/7)
Alternating weeks is the simplest way to share parenting time (for most people) because one week the children will be with parent A, and the following week they are with parent B.
- This keeps parenting exchanges to an absolute minimum. Drop off tends to be at school or daycare, and so is pick up.
- It allows the children to truly maximize time with each parent. During this week again depending on your children we suggest a mid week dinner visit, which then gives the other parent and children the chance to see the other parent during the week. In healthy co-parenting relationships we also encourage parents to attend any events or recitals etc.
- Each parent benefits from a full week of school time (Monday to Friday) and a weekend, without any interruptions.
- This schedule is best suited for older children who are able to handle being away from the parents.
- Depending on the age of your child, one week away from the parent can be a lot to handle. This would depend on his level of independence, emotional security etc.
Option 2: 2-2-3
This schedule is more for younger children since there are a lot of transitions during the week.
- There is more frequent contact between the children and parents, and significant amount of transfers for the child.
- In practice, for children that are not very young, we’ve noticed that they can be easily exhausted by the frequent changes of residence.
- Children and parents must organize clothing, boots, and basic school books and make sure that they accompany the children (to/from each house) which can cause some issues if communication between the parents is difficult.
- For people with busy schedules, this can also prove to be somewhat difficult.
Option 3: 3-3-4-4
This option is very similar to option 2, however, it provides a bit more stability during the week for children.
- More stability then a 2-2-3.
- Parents and child get to have both time together during the week and on weekends.
- A parent will rarely have Friday through Saturday, rather, Parent A will always have Sunday through Tuesday and Parent B will have Wednesday through Friday.
- One parent mayhave the children every weekend.
Option 4: 2-2-5-5
Depending on how you begin your schedule, you may end up with a 5-2-2-5 or a 2-2-5-5.
- Each parent benefits from a full weekend if you chose to.
- More stability than a 2-2-3 and even a little more consistency than a 3-3-4-4.
- The variations give you and your partner the choice to really determine what days are important for each parent.
There is obviously a lot to consider in light of your many options. One of the most important points to consider is your children’s personalities. Some children are extremely independent in light of their age and others can be a bit more sensitive when spending too much time away from a parent. As long as you consider all of these factors, I am sure that whatever parenting time you choose, it will work out for the best. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to consult with one of our lawyers.