Child visitation plans after divorce can be the most difficult part of ending a marriage. Although you and your spouse will have to adjust in many ways after divorce, it’s especially challenging to figure out how much time each parent will get with your kids. The majority of divorcing couples struggle with this final step because it forces parents to lay out exactly what the new arrangements will look like moving forward.
A child custody agreement — or parenting plan — is an essential part of any divorce with children settlement. These agreements have a significant impact on future co-parenting relationships between you and your spouse. Well crafted agreements help both parents protect your children from being caught up in possible arguments over visitation and related issues. By taking time to negotiate a plan that both parents agree with minimizes misunderstandings down the road. Your lawyer should be prepared to help you address not only when and where your children’s time will be spent but also health and education decisions.
Most Common Child Visitation Arrangements
The most common child visitation arrangement is for the parents to share joint physical custody. This means that the child or children spend an equal amount of time with each parent. This is often seen as the best option for the child or children because it allows them to have a close relationship with both parents. It is not though the only arrangement. For example if one parent works long or odd hours or lives far away, this type of visitation and custody arrangement may not work. If if makes sense for a child to reside the majority of time with one parent, then that arrangement will work better. The whole point is to find an arrangement that encourages a good parent child relationship while also taking into account what each parent can do.
Visitation Schedules Should Be in Your Parenting Plan
A parenting plan is a written agreement that sets forth the rights and responsibilities of each parent with respect to their minor child/children. The plan will address issues such as physical custody (where the child will live), legal custody (who has the right to make decisions on behalf of the child), and visitation (parenting time). One of the goals of a parenting plan is to provide stability and consistency for the children.
In most cases, it is in the best interest of the child to have both parents involved in their life. Therefore, the parenting plan should include visitation for both parents. The visitation schedule will spell out which days each parent will have, overnight stays, weekends, holidays, and school vacations. For example parents may alternate days, weekends, or weeks. Christmas may be divided so the mother has the child Christmas day while dad has them Christmas Eve, and then the following year it alternates.
It is important to note that even if a parent does not have custody of a child, they still have the right to visitation. A parent with custody should work with the other parent to create a fair and reasonable visitation schedule.
50/50 Visitation Plan
A 50/50 schedule may work for you if you and the other parent can agree on it and you both think it will best fulfill the physical needs of your child. This schedule means that your child spends an equal amount of time living with both parents. It is important to consider what is in your child’s best interest instead of what you want. Post divorce means each parent must step up and provide care and love for their child and that both parents must not be selfish or demanding when making a plan. Cooperation and respect go a long way in parents getting along for their children’s sake after a divorce.
2-2-5-5 Visitation Plan
A 2-2-5-5 schedule means that the children spend two days with one parent, followed by two days with the other parent, followed by five days with the first parent, then five days with the second parent. This alternate-week schedule is often used when one parent has primary custody and the other parent gets it every other weekend.
3-4-4-3 Visitation Plan
The 3-4-4-3 schedule for child visitation after divorce means that the non-custodial parent has the child every three days, while the custodial parent has the child four days out of every seven. This schedule is designed to give both parents a significant amount of time with their child while still providing some stability for the child.
These are a sample of some common arrangements. Whatever visitation is decided upon, it is important each parent follow the plan. If over time, the plan is not “working” meaning one or both parents having to continually adjust pick up times or days when the child is with them, it may be time to go back to court and file a better plan. And that is okay! Your plan can and should be changed to reflect changes like new job schedules, children’s extra curricular activities or school schedules. Finding a workable plan is in the best interest of both parents and children.
Schedule a Consultation With a Redwood City Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering a divorce and you have children, child custody and visitation plans are an important part of your divorce. Working out a parenting plan can be one of the most difficult stages of the divorce process, but it will go a lot better when parents work cooperatively. Your lawyer will help you think about how much time each parent should spend with their kids, how parenting decisions will be made, and what will work best for your family.
Contact the Law Offices of Bradley Bayan at (650) 364-3600 to discuss your questions about visitation plans and what will work best for your unique situation. We are here to help you create a plan that works for both your schedule and the needs of your child.