Years ago, the typical parenting time plan gave a noncustodial parent every other weekend with the children and a mid-week dinner or overnight stay. However, changes in how society views shared custody and flexibility in work schedules have altered what parents and courts expect when creating a parenting time plan. The trend is for parents to develop a schedule that enables them to have roughly equal time with their children. There are various ways to accomplish that goal.
Why Have Parenting Time Schedules Changed Over Time?
There has been increasing recognition that it is good psychologically for parents and children to spend significant time with each other. Under the old arrangement, the noncustodial parent couldn’t build or maintain as strong of a relationship with the children, which was unfair to both sides. The law also recognized this fact and began to award or encourage additional visitation for the noncustodial parent. Over time, weekend visitation was often expanded to cover Friday to Monday or even Thursday to Monday.
Work schedules and employment practices have also evolved. With long commutes, many parents did not have much time with their kids in the afternoon and evenings; thus, weekends became more important. However, remote work and flex-time schedules have grown in use, especially since COVID. This gave some parents more time with their children during the week. Judges began considering this in developing plans that equalized time between each parent and child.
Today, absent compelling reasons to limit visitation, such as neglect or abuse, courts expect parents to split parenting time 50-50.
What Are the Trends in Parenting Time Schedules?
There are two common types of parenting time schedules that are often used to enable kids to have equal time with each parent.
The 2-2-3 Schedule.
Parents have time with their children on a two-week 2 day-2 day-3 day rotating schedule. In week 1, Parent 1 (P1) has the children for 2 days, then Parent 2 (P2) for 2 days, then Parent 1 for 3 days. In week 2, Parent 2 has the children for 2 days, then Parent 1 for 2 days, then Parent 2 for 3 days. Pick-up and drop-off times revolve around school schedules or as otherwise agreed. This schedule tends to be used for younger children so they never spend too many days away from either parent.
The 2-2-5-5 Schedule.
This plan operates on a two-week rotating schedule. Parent 1 has the children for 2 days, Parent 2 for 2 days, Parent 1 for 5 days, and Parent 2 for 5 days. Since children spend more time with a single parent, this is typically used for children aged 10 years or older.
Many variations of these examples exist tailored to the needs of parents and children. However, the point is for both parents to have time with their kids during the week and weekends so no one is shortchanged. While it may inconvenience parents at times, Judges expect parents to act in the best interest of their children. The court is not likely to accept a schedule that gives one side vastly more time with children, so it is recommended that parents try to work out parenting time issues on their own to the extent possible.
We strive to assist our clients in developing parenting plans without litigation. However, we aggressively advocate for our client’s rights in court if that is impossible. If you are a parent considering divorce, contact us for a consultation.