While each family is unique, there are a few custody arrangements that remain popular with family court counselors and with parents who develop their own parenting plans. These arrangements include the typical alternating weekend or alternating week schedules and some modified versions of these schedules that offer greater flexibility to suit families’ individual needs.
Alternating weekend visitation schedules are common for sole custody arrangements. The visitation weekend often begins on Friday evening and lasts until Sunday evening. However, some families include extended weekends to allow children more time with the non-custodial parent. Extended weekends often last from Friday evening until Monday evening, so they may work best for parents who live near the children’s school or for weekends when school is not in session. This way parents can ensure that extended visitation weekends do not interfere with their children’s school schedules.
Some parenting plans also allow for mid-week visits or overnights with the non-custodial parent. These visits often occur weekly, with the non-custodial parent visiting with children for a few hours on Wednesday nights. Some children stay overnight with the non-custodial parent for mid-week visits. Mid-week visitation is advantageous because children are able to spend time with their non-custodial parent every week, allowing them a more continuous relationship with that parent.
Joint custody arrangements often employ an alternating week schedule, where children spend one week with one parent and then spend the next week with the other parent. The change is often made on Fridays so that weekends are alternated, allowing children weekend time with each parent on alternating weeks. One basic alteration to the alternating week schedule is to add an evening visit or overnight with the other parent during the week, allowing children to see both of their parents each week.
Parents using joint custody arrangements sometimes opt for rotating schedules such as 2-2-3 day rotations, 2-2-5-5 day rotations or other configurations. In a 2-2-3 day rotation, children spend two days with one parent, two days with the other and then have three days, often a long weekend, with the first parent. The rotation then alternates so that the second parent has the children for three days. The 2-2-5-5 rotation works much the same way.
Establishing a routine for children can help ease their transition after a divorce. Putting the visitation or custody schedule in writing will help parents stick to it even when there is still some conflict in their relationship.