Which Joint Custodial Schedule Is Best For Your Kids?
Welcome to the First Blog Posting from Pro Se PROS!
As we begin to populate our web site and social media platforms with blogs, articles, and other content that we think you may find useful, please understand that we are not lawyers. We don’t pretend to be. Never will.
Our perspectives are simply those of dads that continue to learn, and try to be the best parents we can possibly be. Collectively, the three of us (Sean, Alex, and myself) have been involved in high conflict custodial litigation for well over twenty years. Needless to say, we have learned a great deal about the family court process, our kids, and ourselves.
Our different backgrounds and case outcomes allow us to serve you in a very unique way. My perspective will usually come from that of a joint custodian, since joint physical custody has been the arrangement I have had with my daughter since filing for divorce in 2005. Sean has primary physical custody of his son, while Alex has sole custody.
These custodial arrangements are very different, and allow us to provide you with different points of view.
II. JOINT CUSTODIAL SCHEDULES AND TIMESHARES
With regard to the different types of physical custody (joint, primary, and sole), one of the first struggles I remember having early on in my divorce process, was coming up with the best 50/50 joint physical custody schedule to exercise with my co-parent, that would best serve our daughter.
Custodial schedules and timeshares are far from a “one size fits all” proposition, and only make up one component of your ultimate Parenting Plan (albeit an important one).
Speaking of which, we will be addressing parenting plans in more detail in upcoming posts. I have written and re-written mine more times than I care to admit, but I have learned a great deal in the process, and am able to share a few lessons learned.
Back to the specific timeshare that’s best for your child(ren), CustodyXChange outlines several important factors to consider before forming a schedule, including:
. Your Child's Age
. The Temperament of Your Child
. How Your Child Adapts to Change
. Your Child’s Special Needs
. Your Child’s Daily Schedule
. Your Child’s School Environment
. Relationships With Siblings
. Travel Time Involved in Exchanges
. Each Parent’s Schedule/Lifestyle
. Level of Conflict Between Parents
I remember shortly after filing for divorce, friends and attorneys would tell me that a standard “week-on/week-off” schedule was the only way to go. When I asked why, they all said because it was the “easiest.” What they didn’t tell me was that it was the easiest for them, not necessarily for their children. In fact, my daughter had just turned two when I filed for divorce, and seven days away from either parent was not going to best serve her.
I then asked our mediator at FMC (Clark County’s Family Mediation Center) for other options, and his response was that he couldn’t give parenting advice. Geez, I was just looking for some examples and choices, not for advice on how to raise my daughter. I then asked my attorney for some ideas, and while he offered a few, nothing really seemed to make sense for my situation.
With that in mind, I thought I would share some different possibilities (most of which I tried at one point or another) when it comes to selecting an appropriate joint custodial timeshare.
III. SEVEN SPECIFIC TIMESHARE EXAMPLES
One mistake I made early on, was insisting that our schedule had to be a precise and perfect 50/50 timeshare. In an ideal world, that’s great, but not always practical for co-parents. Keep in mind, that in the state of Nevada, a 60/40 timeshare still falls under the umbrella of “joint physical custody” as long as each party exercises a minimum of 146 custodial days per year.
Sidebar: If you would like to learn how the Nevada Supreme Court determined what does, and does not, constitute “custodial time,” check out this link from Marshal S. Willick (Las Vegas family law attorney, gifted writer, and brilliant thinker) regarding the Rivero decision from 2009.
Here are seven different options that you may not have thought of, in trying to craft that ideal schedule for your child (graphics courtesy of CustodyXChange):
THE 7-7 "WEEK-ON/WEEK-OFF" SCHEDULE:
My daughter is a teenager now, and this is the schedule I currently use. I tried this schedule when she was four, and quickly modified it because she was too young for it and was having difficulties adjusting.
One “rule of thumb” I see many child psychologists share is to take the age of your child, and divide by two, which gives you the maximum number of days (on average) a child should go without contact with the other parent. As an example, a six-year old should probably not go any longer than three days without seeing the other parent.
Again, you know your child better than any mediator, attorney, or judge, ever will, and many people scoff at the aforementioned “rule,” but it is something to at least consider.
THE 2-2-3 SCHEDULE:
This was the schedule we changed to after unsuccessfully trying the 7-7 schedule. My daughter loved it. So did I.
Mondays and Tuesdays were always my days, Wednesdays and Thursdays were always my co-parent’s days, and we alternated weekends (consisting of Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays).
Three-day-weekend rotations are nice for extended weekends and potential travel, the only “thorn,” from my experience, was the way Monday Holidays (MLK Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day) would sometimes fall.
More on those days later, when we discuss parenting plans in more detail, but one potential tweak would have been for us to make Tuesdays and Wednesdays my days, Thursdays and Fridays my co-parent’s days, while alternating weekends (consisting of Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays). The downside would have been never having Fridays with my daughter.
Here’s another variation of the 2-2-3 schedule:
THE 3-4-4-3 SCHEDULE:
This schedule has your child with you for three days, then your co-parent for four days, back to you for four days, then your co-parent for three.
Tried it, briefly. Didn’t care for it. Weeks never felt consistent, scheduling gymnastics lessons and soccer practices became tough, school projects would sometimes become disrupted, and easing in and out of holiday and vacation schedules became confusing.
In contrast, I had many friends that swore by this schedule and loved it. Yet another example of how this decision is so personal and unique to your children and your specific situation.
Lastly, in no particular order, here are some other options:
THE 2-2-5-5 SCHEDULE (50/50):
ALTERNATING EVERY TWO DAYS (50/50):
ALL WEEKDAYS WITH ONE PARENT - ALL WEEKENDS THE OTHER (60/40):
THE 4-3 SCHEDULE (60/40):
Chances are, you will find yourself modifying your custodial schedule as your child grows up, and as their needs change, but hopefully these ideas will give you a solid starting point.
While I quickly learned that a “perfect” custodial schedule doesn’t really exist, I also learned that you CAN come pretty darn close, especially when doing a little homework in advance.
Mark DiCIero is the Owner/Founder of Pro Se PROS LLC. Contact Mark directly at 702.743.3338 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.