In Missouri, courts require divorcing couples to submit a parenting plan that includes a complete, detailed time-sharing schedule. This is to ensure the child or children get to spend significant, meaningful time with both parents. Coming up with a visitation arrangement can seem like a daunting and emotionally draining task. Once in place, however, it usually proves very helpful for families, parents, and kids alike by eliminating uncertainty and reducing the need for constant negotiations.
So, what do common co-parenting schedules look like?
If parents have joint custody, the arrangement should ensure the child will regularly divide time equally or nearly-equally between the two households. For some, this might mean:
- Alternate weeks, such as Friday after school through the following Friday afternoon with one parent, and the next full week with the other parent
- Alternating weeks with one mid-week evening or overnight visit with the other parent;
- Weekdays with one parent, weekends with the other. To balance time more evenly, some parents opt for:
- Weekend visits extended through Monday after school;
- Extended weekends plus an evening or overnight visit in the middle of the week
- Alternate weekdays such that one parent has Monday and Tuesday, the other parent has Wednesday and Thursday. The weekend rotates every other weekend with each parent’s weekend starting on Friday and ending Monday morning.
To come up with a plan, it helps to have:
- The child’s school or daycare schedule
- A schedule of any extracurricular activities they’re involved in, such as sports practice or music recitals
- Work schedules for both of you, including any known out-of-town travel requirements
- A list of “special days” such as birthdays, Mother’s Day, Halloween, etc.
- An electronic or paper 12-month calendar with federal holidays noted, OR
- A co-parenting app with a built-in calendar and scheduling capabilities, such as OurFamilyWizard
Plan on making sure the child can spend Mother’s Day with Mom and Father’s Day with Dad. Some days, like the child’s birthday, could be spent together as a family, or the child could spend half the day with each parent.
Discuss how holidays and special days will be spent. This could mean each year alternating major federal holidays and religious days, along with Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day Weekend, 4th of July, Halloween, etc.
Be sure to think about school schedules. The child might spend Spring break with one parent this year and with the other parent next year. Discuss your summer plans, too.
Once you have a detailed plan on paper, note all pick-up and drop-off responsibilities. How will the child get where they need to be when it’s the other parent’s turn? What about after school and recreational activities? Make sure transportation plans are realistic, fair, and fit within the parent’s work schedules. Note if you will rely on other trusted family members for help, such as grandparents or an aunt.
No time-sharing arrangement will be perfect, of course; parents can always expect the unexpected to force changes to best-laid plans. Courts encourage divorced co-parents to be flexible and work cooperatively when it comes to trading days as needed. We are glad to assist you when coming up with a schedule that meets your family’s needs.
At Raza Family Law Solutions, we provide the legal guidance you need. For questions, or to schedule a confidential consultation, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.