As you work with your children’s other parent on setting up a placement (visitation) schedule, there are myriad options to choose from. Even parents who coparent very well together and take things week by week often like to agree upon a set “default” schedule so that, should there ever be a disagreement, there is a plan to fall back on. Parents can work together to customize a placement schedule in any way they want, but the following are three of the most popular options for an equal (“50/50”) child placement schedule.
Option 1: Alternating weeks
This option is exactly as it sounds – the children are with each parent for one week at a time. One week at one home, the next at the other, then back. Parents can choose any day of the week to use as the exchange day. Often this works best when it’s a school day so that one parent takes the children to school and the other parent picks up. Fridays, Sundays and Mondays are the most popular exchange days. Note that this arrangement works best for older children or teenagers – experts tend to agree that very small children do better when they have more contacts each week with each parent. We advise parents to work closely with children’s counselors or therapists on that question if those professionals are being utilized.
Option 2: The 2-2-5-5 Schedule
Parents often choose this option for older children (grade school and up) when they don’t want to go as long between visits as a week on/week off provides. The 2-2-5-5 schedule provides consistency in that each parent always has either Mon/Tu or Wed/Th each week. Knowing that you will always have the child(ren) on Mondays and Tuesdays allows for easier long-term planning and scheduling of consistent activities. On this plan, one parent takes every Monday and Tuesday, the other parent takes every Wednesday and Thursday and then the parents alternate weekends. This plan also has the benefit of providing each parent with a “long” weekend every other week, as the alternating weekend will fold into the normal weekday schedule. This plan looks as follows (the parent listed in a box has the overnight that day):
Option 3: The 2-2-3 Schedule
This schedule is popular for younger children (birth through grade school) because it provides a lot of contact with both parents each week. The downside is that it comes with many more exchanges, which can be hard on children and can also be tough if parents don’t live close to each other. However, this schedule does provide consistency and many contacts with the children for each parent each week. This plan gives one parent two nights, the next parent two nights, then alternates weekends. This means it will change each week which parent as Mo/Tu and which has Wed/Th. This plan looks as follows (the parent listed in a box has the overnight that day):
Call one of our attorneys to talk it through and to discuss other options outside of the sample plans listed above. Every family is unique and has different goals, different schedules for kids’ school and extracurriculars and other factors that play into setting up the best possible schedule for everyone. An experienced attorney who has seen these schedules work (and some not work) in real life can help guide you to a successful long-term schedule.