An Example of a Child Custody Schedule

By Cindy Hill

Continued contact with both parents after divorce is important to a child's development. Unless there has been substantiated abuse by one parent, most courts will allow the family to establish their own custody or visitation schedule. The most common child custody schedules take into account the child's school schedule, parents' work times and transportation issues.

Typical Visitation Schedules

A typical child custody visitation schedule places minor children in the primary care of one parent, with visitation to the non-custodial parent, often on two weekends a month plus evening non-overnight visits of one day a week. Contingency plans for child illness and arrangements for more frequent contact by phone or email are also common provisions in child visitation agreements. This assumes that both parents live a close distance from one another; court approval may be required for either parent to relocate at a distance that would make regular visitation difficult.

Holiday Schedules

Child visitation schedules typically establish a pattern for sharing holidays, such as major religious or cultural holidays, special days like Mother's Day or birthdays, and school breaks like long weekends and summer vacation. Typically, parents alternate holidays or set a holiday schedule for alternating years so the children spend Christmas or other special dates with one parent in odd-number years and the other parent in even-number years. School vacation during the summer months also provides families with a time period in which to schedule more extended visitation with each parent, allowing for travel or simple relaxation time without having to shift back and forth between homes. Extended visitation schedules may also include restrictions on traveling out of state or out of the country with minor children.

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Shared Physical Custody

Shared physical custody means a child lives part of the time with each parent, having more frequent and substantial contact with each parent than under a sole custody arrangement, in which one parent has primary physical custody and the other has occasional visitation. One typical shared custody arrangement is for children to live at one parent's house for one week and the other parent's house the next week. Another common shared custody agreement is to have the children live with one parent during school days and the other parent on weekends, so as not to disrupt their school transportation and homework schedule.

Parental Agreement

Courts step in to order a custody or visitation schedule only when parents can't reach an agreement on their own as to what that schedule should be. Courts usually prefer parents establish their own visitation schedules because parents have a far better understanding of the family's needs, work and school schedules, transportation issues, and each child's interests and requirements. When courts must impose a child visitation order, they do so based on what is in the best interests of the child and consider factors affecting the child's physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.

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Joint Custody Arrangements That Work

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Ideas for Sharing Custody

A shared parenting plan post-divorce or after parents break up might be the kindest gift they can give their children, according to “Parents” magazine. The custody laws in all states, which stress that children should have frequent and loving contact with both parents, are in line with this same principle. “Parents” magazine indicates that children who enjoy this contact after their parents part ways are better adjusted and have fewer socialization, school and behavioral problems. But shared custody requires the dedication of both parents to make it work.

Joint Child Custody: How to Create Your Child Visitation Schedule

You have the power to negotiate a visitation schedule that works well for you. If you and your ex-partner agree to share joint child custody, you can generally create a child custody and visitation schedule with or without a court order. When you enter into the custody agreement, you are both bound by its terms. However, the agreement cannot legally be enforced until the court approves it and issues a child custody order.

Custody & Visitation of Infant Children in Divorce

Child custody and visitation cases can become contentious, especially when they involve an infant. Early attachment and bonding can affect a child's relationship with her parents for the rest of her life. Unfortunately, traditional custody arrangements may not facilitate this bonding process. Parents engaged in custody disputes over very young children should carefully consider the importance of developing attachments and work to maintain the child's attachment to both parents.

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