Sample Parenting Time Schedules

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Colorado courts encourage active involvement of both mothers and fathers with their children whenever possible.  The nurture and training from two parents gives kids an enhanced security and safety net .  Strong relational bonds between parents and children add to the stability of stronger communities.  Additionally, involved parents tend to support their children financially. 

This article addresses common concerts and important considerations in designing agreements for parenting plans in mediation:  Restructuring Family Relationships and Shifting Roles | Parenting Plan Options & Examples.

Restructuring Family Relationships and Shifting Roles

In nuclear families, habits naturally emerge over time in regards to tasks and chores:  one spouse takes care paying the bills, one takes the kids to the majority of activities, one enjoys cooking, one does the majority of the cleaning, and so on.  Gender seems to be less of a factor in dividing the necessary family chores in our society, now that we've had decades of two-income families. 

It is important to acknowledge and honor each spouse's contributions prior to the divorce, and also realize that roles can and do change tremendously after the restructure of any family.

When families restructure through divorce, parents who may have sacrified time with the family in order to bring home greater income before the divorce must expand their focus to include more nurturing roles for their children after the split.  This can be tremendously positive!  There are joys to be discovered in spending more focused time with kids. 

The shift can also be a challenge to the parent whose role prior to the divorce included the primary parenting duties. A wise prophet observed, "one must decrease so that another may increase." This rebalancing of roles can be frightening and the outcome of divorce transition is uncertain.  There are trust issues with parenting, and a primary caregiver may not think it possible that a parent who was previously less-involved can reallocate their focus to include focused time attending to children's needs.   Older children, also, have thoughts and feelings about the established relationships and routines adhered to prior to a divorce. 

When a previously absent parent, however, is faced with losing both their marriage and children, that parent often reprioritizes their life to include greater focus on the kids.  This is the best result in a divorce situation.  The opposite an also be true: work can be a great escape from an unhappy personal life.  Sometimes the identification between the ex-spouse and children is so entertwined that the absent parent cannot imagine a greater role with the children. 

In working with a mediator, divorcing couples can explore and discuss options for restructuring the family into new roles and responsibilities.  It is sometimes helpful to have a neutral negotiator who is familiar with common divorce issues to generate options for settlement and to bounce ideas off of.  Including a review of the parenting plan into the agreements for a specified time in the future allows couples to re-evaluate how a new parenting plan plays out in reality.

Couples who mediate with me have significant latitude in creating their own restructured roles.  I have faith that divorcing spouses have intimate knowledge, involvement, and greatest stake in the outcome of the restructured family unit.  I leverage this belief to negotiate a positive outcome in the written mediated agreements (called Memorandums of Understanding or MOU's).

Parenting Plan Options & Examples

The following schedules do not take into consideration additional time that can be built into vacations and holidays, as well as flexibly-schedule time.

50/50% Alternate Weeks Friday 5:00 p.m. to following Friday 5:00 p.m.
183 overnights/182 overnights
50/50% Alternate Extended Weekends With Split Midweeks 5-2-2-5 Alternate Friday 5:00 p.m. to Monday 5:00 p.m. and with Parent A every Monday 5 p.m. to Wednesday 5:00 p.m.; with Parent B every Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. to Friday 5:00 p.m.
183/182 overnights
64/36% Extended Alternate Weekends and Midweek Overnights Friday 5:00 p.m. to Monday 5:00 p.m., with Wednesday 5:00 p.m. to Thursday 5:00 p.m
235/130 overnights
72/28% Alternate Weekends and Midweek Overnights Friday 5:00 p.m. to Sunday 5:00 p.m., with Wednesday 5:00 p.m. to Thursday 8:00 a.m.
261 overnights/104 overnights
79/21% Extended Alternate Weekends Friday 5:00 p.m. to Monday 5:00 p.m.
287 overnights/78 overnights
85/15% Alternate Weekends Friday 5:00 p.m. to Sunday 5:00 p.m.
313 overnights/52 overnights
85/15% Alternate Weekends and Midweek Visit Friday 5:00 p.m. to Sunday 5:00 p.m., with every Wednesday 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
313 overnights / 52 overnights

Flex Time:  Often parents want more parenting time with their children but their work schedules or geographical locations don’t allow regularly scheduled time.  In these situations, parents can agree in mediation to calculate in flex time to be scheduled when additional time is available for the parent with less parenting time.  Float time can be added to extend a regularly-scheduled weekend or as extra days or weeks during a school break or summer. It is important when making agreements about flex time to clearly define how much notice must be given, which parent’s preference takes precedent when a dispute arises about flex time, etc.

Additional Time: can be built into the calendar year for vacations, holidays, extra time on a long weekend, or other events which would make the time even more equal.

Very Young Children:  When children are very young, identifying a primary caregiver may be more important for the psychological development of the child.  Parties in mediation may make agreements for the very young years with a built-in adjustment to step up parenting time once the child is older.  Mediation offers couples an opportunity to take the necessary time in focused, guided discussions to determine what is right for their own family needs. 

An equal time parenting plan that might be especially advantageous for young children who need more frequent contact with both parents is the 3/3/4/4 arrangement. With this two week schedule, Parent A spends 3 days with the child and then Parent B spends 3 days with the child. Then Parent A spends four days with the child and Parent B gets the next four days with the child.