Scheduling and co-parenting for the child’s benefit

Pennsylvania parents who get a divorce can use a number of different schedules for child custody and visitation. Many courts encourage parents to aim for something close to a 50/50 schedule. For children age 12 and older, a schedule in which they spend alternate weeks with each parent can work, but for younger children, there can be drawbacks.

Parents may struggle to change up their schedule every other week to get the child to and from school on time and to find child care on alternate weeks. For younger children, a week can seem like a long time, and they could develop separation anxiety. A better schedule might be one in which each parent has the child for four days every other week. This can be done with a 3-4-4-3 schedule or a 2-2-3 schedule with the idea being that parents take turns having the child for three or four days weekly.

Sometimes, aiming for 50/50 is not feasible, and a better schedule for parents and children is one that allots time 60/40. This might involve children spending long weekends with one parent and weekdays with the other or one in which the child spends five days weekly with one parent and two days with the other. The priority for parents should be how the child’s life will be affected.

Parents may want to negotiate an agreement for child custody and visitation instead of going to court, or they might want to try mediation. While litigation takes an adversarial approach to resolution, in which one side “wins” and the other does not, mediation aims to reach a mutually satisfying solution. Even when parents are experiencing high conflict, mediation may help them reach an agreement that they are both happier with than they would be if they went before a judge.

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