What Are Typical Child Visitation or Parenting Time Schedules?
When a judge determines that both parents are entitled to reasonable visitation with a child, it’s usually left to the parents to create a parenting time schedule or visitation plan. This is the preferred method of determining visitation as each parent can work around his or her own schedule. The parent with custodial rights usually has more influence over what is considered “reasonable” in terms of visitation duration and times, however, with no legal duty to agree to a proposed visitation schedule. When one parent becomes inflexible or malicious, a judge can take this behavior into account later.
Judges may also order a fixed visitation schedule, which is times or even places in which the non-custodial parent has visitation. When it seems there is conflict between parents or little cooperation, courts are more likely to put a fixed visitation schedule in place.
Parents can work together to create their own parenting time schedule that makes sense for their situation. Visitation schedules can always be adjusted as the needs of the child and parents change. The following are examples of common visitation schedules used by New York parents.
This type of joint parenting schedule allows the child to spend equal amounts of time with both parents. This type of schedule does present challenges, however; when it comes to schooling. A 50/50 schedule tends to work best when parents live fairly close to each other and the child can switch between households easily.
The 80/20 schedule allows the child to spend 80% of their time with one parent as a home base and 20% of their time with the other parent. This schedule is most common when parents live far apart, the child does best with a single home base, or one parent is the primary caregiver. The most common schedule is for the child to spend weekends with one parent, but some parents prefer a setup such as 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends with the other parent.
Weekend and alternating weekend schedules are probably the most common. In these cases, weekend visits can begin at 6pm Friday and end at 6pm Sunday. This schedule works best for giving a non-custodial parent time with the child while working a standard 9-5 job Monday through Friday.
Long Distance Schedules
Visitation can prove challenging when parents live far away from each other. There are many schedules that can work well for long distance visitation:
- Weekend visits if the distance is driveable
- Visits every other weekend
- Week-long visits every 2 months for younger children not in school
- Long weekend visits when the child has days off school
- Spring and fall breaks with the non-custodial parent
- 6-8 week summer breaks with the non-custodial parent
Parenting Plans for School-Age Children
Working around school is a common concern when creating a parenting plan. Children between 6 and 12 typically adjust well to different schedules in their life, however, and feel more comfortable with longer separations from parents as they spend more time attending school, participating in activities, and visiting friends.
Common visitation schedules for school-age children include:
- Alternating weekends with a mid-week visit with the non-custodial parent
- Alternating weeks
- A 5/2 schedule for the child to spend weekends with the non-custodial parent
Flexible Visitation Schedules
Along with schooling, getting visitation with children while working around the work schedules of two parents can be challenging. Not all parents are off on weekends and not everyone works 9-5. Sometimes parents can cover for the other’s work schedule by adopting a flexible visitation approach. One parent may drop children off at school while the other picks them up after school for homework and dinner. This approach, when the parents get along, can overcome many hurdles of co-parenting and help avoid the need for childcare.
Holidays and Extended Visits
Visitation schedules for non-custodial parents often involve a regular schedule — such as weekends — plus visitation for some birthdays, holidays, and extended stays. Parents often alternate holidays with the children, such as Thanksgiving with one parent the first year and Thanksgiving with the other parent the next year. For major holidays and birthdays, some parents choose to share the day with an early celebration with one parent before going to the other parent’s home for the rest of the festivities.
Because non-custodial parents usually receive around 20% of time with the child during most of the year, it’s common for children to spend long breaks from school with their non-custodial parent.