What Parenting Time Schedule Is Best For Your Child?
You attorney can assist in developing a parenting plan that includes schedules that you and your children can live with.
One of the biggest challenges you will face as a parent after a divorce is the new world of child custody plans and visitation agreements. As part of your divorce, you will need to create a parenting plan that becomes the blueprint for you and your child’s other parent’s interaction and time-sharing with your child or children.
This may be very different from how you functioned as a parent when you were married. For one, the very creation of the parenting plan and the visitation schedule will require a great deal of thought in advance; you will need to plan where your child will be every day of the year.
The level of detail will depend on the parents and the child. If you agree to joint custody with equal time between parents, your schedule will be very different from that of a parent with sole custody and limited visitation time for the other parent.
Even if you decide on joint legal and physical custody with equal time between parents, your schedule could be quite different from that of another family with nominally the same arrangement.
Georgia family law, like many states, holds a preference for joint custody. Much research has found that children do better in life when both parents are involved in their lives. Of course, the difficulty is creating a plan with two parents who have just dissolved their marriage and facilitating their cooperation with raising their children.
In a perfect world, all parents could adopt an equal time schedule, where the children would spend 50 percent of their time with each parent. These types of plans can achieve that 50/50 split in a great many ways. You could adopt an every two-day schedule, where the children spend two days with the father and then two days with the mother. Or you could decide to split every other week or even every other month.
The challenges with a 50/50 split with multiple weekly exchanges can be great. You will have a significant amount of interaction with your child’s other parent. This means that if you had a contentious divorce, where you fought over virtually every aspect of your separation, this is unlikely to be a good fit.
If you can cooperate, and maintain a civil and constructive relationship with your child’s other parent, at least as regards your children, this may be an ideal arrangement. However, it still will create challenges. The age, maturity, and other relationships of the child, such as school or extracurricular activities will also affect the operation of your parenting plan.
A 50/50 option may not work for many parents. If your children are very young, if they are uncomfortable moving between homes with great frequency, if one parent has a job that demands a great deal of travel or long hours on weeknights, this plan probably will not work.
You may have to accept a schedule an 80/20 split with weekend visitation that fits with your work schedule. You can also factor in summer vacations or school breaks, where you may have the ability to take the children for larger blocks of time. This type of schedule may be necessary if the parents live further apart, with one outside the child’s school district.
Keep in mind that a court will judge any parenting plan by the “best interests of the child” standard. Your interests are secondary, and creating a plan that attempts to “punish” the other parent will not be accepted by a family court in Georgia. Your credibility is at stake in everything you do during your divorce, and working with your children’s other parent to cooperate and develop a viable parenting plan can demonstrate your good faith effort to foster your children’s best interests.
Your parenting plan includes much more than just your residential custody schedule. It will contain your decision-making authority, dispute resolution procedures and how modifications to the plan are to be made. This is necessary, because your plan will need to change as your children age and your life situations change.
Your attorney can help you will all of the details when developing such a plan. They will explain the various sections and offer suggestions on what needs to be included and optional additions you can make. A well-constructed parenting plan can be your guide to successfully raising your children, so it is worth your time and effort, as both you and your children will reap the rewards.