When couples are faced with dividing their children’s time, one of the first questions asked is, “What type of visitation or parenting plan do you recommend for my situation?”
This is similar to asking someone how they like their steak – the answers can be as varied as your imagination. With more cases being resolved through mediation, it is now more common to see a visitation schedule truly focused on the needs, schedules, and traditions of each individual family.
Here are 3 tips to consider when designing a workable parenting plan:
Keep in mind both parents’ work schedules. If one parent works late nights or most weekends, using a schedule where visitation periods fall during these times guarantees the child will spend a lot of time with babysitters instead of the parent. Look at periods of time when both the child and the parent are not working or attending school to build in extended visitation periods which maximize the parent-child bonding opportunities.
School Calendar(s) and Children’s After-School Activities
Depending on the child's school, the school calendar and after-school activities may dictate the schedule that will work best. The older a child gets and the more involved he or she becomes in school-based activities or sports, the more important it will be to allow spaces in the schedules for these activities - and to allow both parents to be involved.
Family Holiday Traditions
Just because the calendar designates a specific “holiday” doesn't mean that you must include it in your parenting schedule. For instance, if a particular holiday means more to one parent, adjust the schedule to allow that parent to enjoy the whole holiday with the child and find another period of time to give the other parent an extended period to even things out. Both the child and parents win in these situations.