Divorce is more complicated when children are involved. It’s more than just you and your ex parting ways – your child’s future hangs in the balance as well. This means that even if you’re no longer on good terms with your ex, the decisions that you make surrounding your future life as co-parents can’t be personally motivated. You need to consider your child’s best interest as well.
You and your ex may have already settled on sharing custody of your child. But it’s important to understand that how you share custody has important impacts on your child as well. Some custody schedules work better for young children, while others work better for teens. Informing yourself about the benefits of different custody schedules for different age groups can help your child transition more easily into a two-household lifestyle.
Below are three common joint custody schedules:
- 2-2-3: With this schedule, your child stays with you on Monday and Tuesday, then with your ex on Wednesday on Thursday. From Friday through Sunday, they’re back with you, and then the schedule flips the following week – beginning with your ex on Monday.
Pediatric mental health professionals have found that toddlers and preschool-age children tend to respond well to frequent variation in their schedules, so the 2-2-3 schedule often works well for this age group.
- 2-2-5: This schedule involves more schedule stability on weekdays. On Monday and Tuesday, your child always stays with you. On Wednesday and Thursday, they always stay with your ex. For Friday through Sunday, you and your ex-spouse alternate custody. You get your child one weekend, and your ex gets them the next.
Having a more consistent schedule during the work week can be easier for children once they get old enough to start having their own schedules and activities. It can be easier for parents to keep track of soccer practices and other regularly scheduled obligations if someone’s always on deck on a certain day.
- Alternating weeks: With this schedule, you get custody of your child for a full week, and the next week, they stay with your ex. This type of schedule often works better for adolescents, as they are becoming more independent and can handle longer stretches of time away from one parent.
Above all, your child custody schedule shouldn’t be seen as a static arrangement. Flexibility is key. It’s important to understand that your custody schedule may change as your child enters different phases of their life.