Finding a parenting plan that works for all parties

California parents who are going through a divorce may need to create a parenting plan that includes a schedule for when their children will spend time with each of them. Courts often encourage parents to work toward roughly a 50-50 schedule, and some parents may assume the easiest way to do this is to have the child alternate weeks with each of them.

However, there may be some disadvantages. For children younger than 12 years old, a week without seeing the other parent can seem too long. Parents may also struggle to fit this into their own lives. For example, it might be hard to find child care for alternating weeks. Some parents have more success using a 2-2-3 model in which the child spends two days with one parent, two days with the other and then three with the first parent, changing it up for the following week. With a 3-4-4-3 schedule, the child alternates spending either three or four days per week with each parent.

There are also situations in which it may be best to go to a schedule that is closer to 60-40. Children could spend a long weekend with one parent and weekdays with the other parent. There could even be a 5-2 schedule or one in which the child spends every other weekend with the other parent.

Working out a child custody agreement can be one of the most difficult and emotional elements of getting a divorce, but doing so through negotiation can allow parents the flexibility in determining the schedule that they may not have in the more adversarial atmosphere of a courtroom. Through mediation, which aims for a resolution that suits both parties, even parents who are struggling with conflict may be able to reach an agreement.

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