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Things to consider when creating a child custody arrangement

When you are a parent going through a divorce, you are likely worried how this will affect your children. Maybe you and your soon-to-be ex have a great relationship, or maybe the split was contentious. Either way, dividing custody can be difficult. You both want to protect the children, but you may have different ideas about what that means.

 

Make an agreement that is best for the children

Going through a divorce is an emotional time. You may feel betrayed or angry. It is certainly normal to have these feelings, but do not let that hurt spill over into the custody agreement. Spending time with your children is important to you, but it also important to your former spouse. Try to act in the best interests of the children, not in your own best interests.

Look at your schedule and be realistic

If your former spouse gets off work before you, it may make sense for him or her to pick up your children from school. Maybe you work long days four days a week, and your former partner should keep the kids on those days. Be honest about what works best with your lifestyle and try not to view custody as a win or lose scenario.

Find a schedule that accommodates your children’s needs

According to Parents Magazine, some common child custody arrangements are 2-2-3, 2-2-5, and the alternate week plan. The alternate week plan is when children spend one week with one parent, the next week with the other parent, and it continues to alternate. The 2-2-3 plan is Monday and Tuesday with one parent, Wednesday and Thursday with the other parent, and then Friday-Sunday back with the other parent. This too rotates weekly. For the 2-2-5 plan, the children spend Monday and Tuesday with one parent, Wednesday and Thursday with the other parent, and Friday-Sunday back with the first parent. Again, this schedule alternates weekly.

Deciding what schedule works best for your family will depend on your children’s ages, activities, and personalities. You will also need to consider your former spouse’s schedule and how far he or she lives from you. Maybe none of these schedules will work for your family, or maybe you will create a modified version of one of these. Just remember to discuss this thoroughly with your former partner and make your decision based on what you both think will work best for the children.

Create an easy way to communicate your schedule

Even if you have settled on a custody agreement, there are still holidays, vacation time, and children’s activity schedules. You will likely want to record all this information on a calendar you both can access. You can create paper calendars, use Google calendar, or there are apps specifically for sharing child custody. Agree what works the best for the both of you, and do not force your children to relay information between you.

Know the arrangement is not static

As your children get older, their commitments and schedules may change. Or maybe you or your former spouse get a new job. These life changes may necessitate changes to the custody agreement. If something is not working for you or your family, work with your former partner to come up with a new approach.

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