If you’re planning to share custody of your child with your co-parent “50/50” following your divorce, it’s important to understand what that really means as you work out a parenting time schedule. For example, you may decide to factor in “third-party time.” That’s the time someone else is caring for your child – when they’re at school, daycare, or with a relative or sitter until you are available to resume caring for your child.
This may result in a schedule that does not look “50/50” on paper, but realistically still provides you with about half of the substantive “parenting time.” Some co-parents work out a 60/40 schedule to allow both to have the same amount of actual parenting time with their child. This can be done in a variety of ways. You need to consider factors like how often it’s practical for your child to move between homes, what your work schedules are, what other extended family spends considerable time with your child, and more.
It is also important to remember that even if you do not have a perfect 50/50 divide of time between parents, that is not an indicated of the quality of time you have with your child. What your child will remember is how you used what time you had with them, not how many specific hours or overnights they spent with you.
A 4-3 schedule
This can be done in different ways. Sometimes the child will live with one parent during the week (Monday through Friday) and with the other parent on the weekends. Typically, the “weekend” parent takes the child after school Friday and brings them to school on Monday. Assuming that parents and child have “traditional” work and school schedules, this works out to about the same amount of time together. It’s also convenient if the “weekday” parent lives closer to the child’s school.
A 4-3 schedule can also have the changeover during the middle of the week and again over the weekend. This way, each parent can spend part of the weekend with their child.
There are 14 overnights in a two-week period. Having 6 of those overnights across that two-week period is just over 40% of the overnights. Depending on when your 6 overnights occur, you may be able to enjoy time with your child that is more one-on-one while your co-parent may end up having more time that is dominated by the school day or summer camp. Begin your custodial time with pickup after school or daycare to enjoy that first night uninterrupted, while allowing you to participate in the child’s full routine the following day(s).
The schedule you and your co-parent work out will be unique to your family’s needs. It will likely need to be modified as your child gets older. Doing what’s best for your child as you all adjust to this new family structure will help them feel secure. Having sound legal guidance will help you explore your options and work toward the best solution.