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October 28,2022

Child Custody, Family Law, Visitation

Goodman Law Firm

Parenting Plan Options

HomeBlogChild CustodyParenting Plan Options

Parenting schedules can be a daunting task for divorced or separated parents. There are many factors to consider when creating a parenting schedule, and it can be challenging to know where to start. A common question is whether standard parenting schedules can be used as a starting point or if other creative options are available for families.

While there is no one-size-fits-all parenting schedule, some standard parenting time arrangements exist for families. Any standard or unique parenting schedule should be based on the child’s best interests and flexible enough to accommodate the child’s changing conditions as they grow older. A parenting schedule does not need to be static and can be modified as needed with the help of an attorney who can review current parenting time agreements and request modifications.

This blog will detail a family’s options for parenting time schedules after divorce or separation, the difference between the most common allocations of 60/40 and 50/50 parenting time schedules, explore unique variations for parenting time schedules, and age considerations.

Types of Parenting Time Arrangements

There are several standard parenting time schedules that parents often reference when contemplating the right plan for their children. Parents may share time equally, or one parent may have the majority of parenting time. The most common parenting time schedules are 50/50, 60/40, and 70/30. However, it is essential to note that every family is unique, and what works for one may not work for your family. Discussing your parenting schedule with your ex-partner and family law attorney and developing a plan that works best for your family is essential.

Fifty-Fifty Parenting Time Schedules

A 50/50 parenting schedule can have many variations due to the equal nature of parenting time allocation. One variation of the 50/50 plan includes the 2-2-3 schedule. In this schedule, the child or children spend two days with Parent A, switch and spend two days with Parent B, and then spend three days with Parent A. The following week, the arrangement changes, with Parent B enjoying three consecutive days of parenting time. An example is depicted below. The key advantage of this plan is that the children never spend more than three days away from either parent.

Example of 50/50 Parenting Time 2-2-3
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Parent A Parent A Parent B Parent B Parent A Parent A Parent A
Week 2 Parent B Parent B Parent A Parent A Parent B Parent B Parent B

A similar variation is the 2-2-5-5 schedule. In this schedule, the child or children spend two days with each parent and then five days with each parent. This plan allows for more consistency (weekday parenting time does not alternate, only weekends alternate) and may be more appealing for that reason. The major drawback is that the children are away from each parent for five days at a time.

Example of 50/50 Parenting Time 2-2-5-5
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Parent A Parent A Parent B Parent B Parent A Parent A Parent A
Week 2 Parent A Parent A Parent B Parent B Parent B Parent B Parent B

Perhaps the most common type of 50/50 parenting time schedule is the alternating weeks. In this plan, the children spend seven consecutive days with Parent A and seven days with Parent B. An example is illustrated below.

Example of 50/50 Parenting Time (with alternating weekends)
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Parent A Parent A Parent A Parent A Parent A Parent A Parent A
Week 2 Parent B Parent B Parent B Parent B Parent B Parent B Parent B

The advantage of this plan is that the children don’t switch homes as often, and each parent can participate in all the activities and rituals that happen in any week. A frequent concern or objection to this plan is that both parents spend seven days apart from the child(ren). Some families opt to add in a mid-week dinner or overnight visit. An alternating week with a mid-week dinner (overnight) is illustrated below.

Example of 50/50 Parenting Time (with mid-week overnight)
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Parent A Parent A Parent B Parent A Parent A Parent A Parent A
Week 2 Parent B Parent B Parent A Parent B Parent B Parent B Parent B

Sixty-Forty Parenting Time Schedules

Another arrangement is the 60/40 split. In a 60/40 parenting time arrangement, Parent A has parenting time with the child for four days, and Parent B has parenting time with the child for three days. There are two typical 60/40 parenting time schedules: the every-extended weekend schedule and the 4-3 schedule. The every-extended weekend schedule means the child spends weekdays with one parent and a long weekend with the other. This plan is less common because most parents are unwilling to give up all of their weekend parenting time. If a parent lives out of state or travels for work, this plan may be a good starting point.

Example of 60/40 Parenting Time (with extended weekends)
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Parent A Parent A Parent A Parent A Parent B Parent B Parent B
Week 2 Parent A Parent A Parent A Parent A Parent B Parent B Parent B

A more typical 60/40 allocation is depicted below. Weekday parenting time is slightly disproportionate, with Parent A having one additional overnight each week.

Example of 60/40 Parenting Time (with alternating weekends)
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Parent A Parent A Parent B Parent B Parent A Parent A Parent A
Week 2 Parent A Parent A Parent B Parent B Parent B Parent B Parent A

Seventy-Thirty Parenting Time Schedules

The 70/30 schedule allows a child to spend 70% of their time staying with one parent and 30% of their time with the other parent. Parents often select this schedule when they live further in proximity to one another, the children are very young, the children need more consistency, or a parent’s work obligations make additional parenting time impractical, though there are other reasons for such a schedule. The primary benefit of this schedule is that it provides stability for the children since there are fewer transitions between homes.

Example of 70/30 Parenting Time
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Parent A Parent A Parent B Parent A Parent B Parent B Parent A
Week 2 Parent A Parent A Parent B Parent A Parent A Parent A Parent A

How do parenting time arrangements change with a child’s age?

Ages 0 – 2 – For younger children, the court will often consider how much time the child has spent with each parent. Primary caregiving for young children may come into consideration, especially if one parent primarily cares for an infant or toddler. An arrangement awarding more parenting time to one parent typically occurs because young children often benefit from having continuity in their caregiving arrangement. Regular contact with both parents is usually in a child’s best interests.

Ages 3 – 5 – Children within the 3-5 age range can form deep attachments with their parents and other caregivers. Children at this age begin to thrive with consistency and may feel more regulated with the stability of a parenting time and visitation schedule. Children in this age group begin to question the “why” behind everything, including separation, divorce, and switching homes. Parents who meet their child’s curiosity with solid, unified responses as co-parents set their children up for success.

Ages 6 – 12 – Children in this age group can typically handle longer separations from each parent. Age is not the only factor to consider in creating a parenting plan. Other factors to consider include:

  • The child’s maturity
  • The duration that the child has experienced shared parenting time
  • The bond between a child and each parent
  • Extracurricular activities and school events
  • Peer relationships
  • The health of the child and each parent

Children six and older often have a handle and understanding of the circumstances around parenting time, schedules, and visiting parents off and on. Talking to your children about schedules, arrangements, and divorce can help ease any panic, anxiety, and sadness your children are experiencing during this time.

Ages 13 – 18  The teenage years are accompanied by rapid and dramatic changes to a teenager’s body, social circles, school demands, and extracurricular activities. Most judges encourage parental flexibility when working with children in this age group. Flexibility leads to good co-parenting and the children’s continued emotional health because they are likely exposed to less conflict. Teenagers may develop anger, resentment, and pain surrounding separation from their caregivers. In these cases, the parents need to talk to each other about their child’s feelings and make the best decisions for their future.

Can parents communicate with their children when the children are with their other parent?

Children need to stay connected to both parents, so daily phone calls, texts, or video calls are usually appropriate when your child is with his or her other parent. The frequency and duration of such calls (or texts, etc.) will vary greatly depending on the child’s age, needs, and maturity.  Communication should be reasonable and not unduly burdensome for your child’s other parent.  Your parenting plan can spell out your expectations for daily phone calls to avoid any future disputes with your child’s other parent.

Contact a Goodman Law Attorney in Chicago Today

When you are accustomed to seeing your children on a daily basis, allocating parenting time between two households can be overwhelming. If you are looking for help creating or modifying your parenting plan in Illinois, Goodman Law Firm is here to assist you. Our firm has extensive experience creating parenting plans that allow our clients ample time with their children. We understand the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship with your children and will work diligently to ensure your rights are protected. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you create or modify your parenting plan.

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