Successful co-parenting takes effort and planning. One of the issues that is extremely important to research, carefully consider and plan in detail is the child custody schedule. This is a key part of a co-parenting plan. Done correctly, a custody schedule can help to create a predictable situation for children that can help them adapt to the new circumstances and give parents the custody to which they are entitled.
Here are some things to think about when allotting parenting time, working out a visitation schedule, or determining rotations in a shared custody scenario:
- The ages of children: Younger children may need to transition between parents more frequently if the goal is to establish a relationship with both parents, although breastfeeding can be a consideration in the case of younger children. Older children may need more stability and have activities to work around, often making longer periods at each person’s home preferable.
- The co-parenting relationship: If things are very tense, a more rigid plan may be needed to prevent conflict. Flexibility is ideal as certain emergent situations can arise, but consider the level of collaboration needed to fulfill a plan when making that plan.
- Right of first refusal: The right of first refusal means that when one parent can’t care for children on the agreed upon days, the other is given the option to care for them before a childcare provider is called in. This works well for some parents, while others prefer to keep the plan as it is and for each party to be responsible for childcare during their period with the children if it is required.
Ultimately, the best co-parenting plan is the one that works best for the children and the co-parents. Sometimes, parents will disagree about who should have what amount of custody. Other times, they may agree but need legal help sorting out the details and documenting them for the future. In either case, it is helpful for each party to seek separate legal representation from a qualified family lawyer.