Different Types Of Custody And Visitation

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If your family structure is changing, you may be navigating the creation of a child custody agreement. You might be wondering what the different types of custody agreements look like. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most popular types of custody and visitation schedules to help you establish yours.

50/50 Custody Agreements

Many parents opt to use a 50/50 custody approach. This is a great option if both parents are remaining in the same location and your child’s daily schedule won’t be impacted. Proximity to school, activities, and work will be a factor in this decision.

If you do decide to move forward with a 50/50 custodial agreement, here are some of the most common schedules:

An Alternating Weeks Schedule

This type of custody involves swapping off weeks with your co-parent. Many people choose to do a Friday to Friday schedule. This is a gentle way to transition your child to a new week. They are simply picked up from school or daycare by the parent who’ll have custody for that week.

This kind of arrangement can be a good choice for a child who thrives on routine. It allows your little one to have the weekend to settle in and get on track. It can also help alleviate anxiety or emotional difficulty during handoffs.

The downside is that one parent is missing out on an entire week every week. Communication will be essential, especially when it comes to scheduling extracurricular events. Though handoffs happen less frequently, you may find you’re in continual contact with your co-parent discussing schedules, academic performance, and responsibilities.

Two Weeks On, Two Weeks Off Alternating Schedule

With this type of custody, you’ll have your children for two straight weeks and then your co-parent will have them for two weeks. Again, this is a schedule that can really work for a child who has more difficulty adjusting to frequent change. It can also be a good way to fit in vacations and other family events.

The longer custody time can be beneficial to families who are further apart, as it cuts down on the frequency of travel. This is especially true over the summers where proximity to school is less of an issue.

As with the alternating week schedule, this does mean you’ll miss greater chunks of time with your child. If you have a work schedule you can structure to line up with your custody schedule, though, this can be a good fit.


A 3-4-4-3 Schedule

If you opt to go with this 50/50 schedule, you’ll be taking half a week and your co-parent will take the other half. The first week one parent will have three days while the other has four. When custody changes hands the following week, the first parent will have four days and the second will have three. This keeps the schedule rotating and even.

With this kind of schedule, your little one will have frequent visits with both parents. This can be a great choice for young children who need those constant interactions.

With little concept of time, this is the period where the schedule will impact you more than them. A rotating schedule like this does take a little bit to keep track of when it comes to juggling appointments and events.

A 2-2-5-5 Schedule

This is another schedule that involves breaking a single week up to give both parents custody. With this type of custody, each parent will have two days of custody and then each parent will have five days of custody.

This schedule can be a great way to get each parent weekend time with their child. It does mean there are mid-week handoffs on a regular basis. You’ll want to make sure each co-parent and your child have a schedule that can support that frequency of exchanges.

A 2-2-3 Schedule

This type of custody agreement is another that involves mid-week handoffs. Though this schedule is rotating, it rotates consistently, which can make it easy to plan around. It can be a good option for a child who likes to get to know their routine while still giving co-parents frequent parenting time.

A 2-Day Alternating Schedule

This custody schedule involves trading off parenting duties every two days. It’s a progressive schedule that allows each parent to experience every day of their child’s schedule. It can be a great choice for having both parents fully involved in all the details of your child’s life. It also means there needs to be plenty of communication.

This kind of custody schedule works well if you and your co-parent are located close to one another. There are regular and frequent handoffs, so being in the neighborhood will cut down on commute time.

Will A 50/50 Schedule Work For You?

There are other options out there for a custody agreement. A 50/50 schedule can be a great option for co-parents who live near one another. When choosing a 50/50 schedule, your child’s routine outside of the home won’t be compromised.

Your child will also have the opportunity to develop close relationships with both parents. As parents, you will have the same benefit of getting to know and enjoy your child.

This type of custody agreement usually requires a lot of contact and communication. It works best for families who have amicably separated. You also need to ensure your child can handle frequent changes. You’ll always want to keep their needs at the forefront of your custodial decisions.

In some instances, a family may decide a 70/30 split is a better choice. Whatever type of custody arrangement you move forward with, make sure to keep the following in mind while planning:

  • Factor in other family obligations: When you’re putting together your schedule, it’s easy to focus only on the immediate family. Don’t forget to factor in time for other family members, like aunts and uncles and grandparents. These relationships are important to maintain, for both your child and the family members.
  • Look at school vacations: You may choose a custody schedule that works best for the majority of the year and need to tweak it for school breaks. Get a copy of your child’s schedule and start planning any exceptions or changes early on. This will make navigating your custody agreement and vacations a little easier.
  • Plan holidays in advance: When it comes to important annual holidays, look at the big picture. Will you be splitting each holiday or swapping off years? Picture your ideal scenario and that will help you create a custody situation that works for everyone.

Making Changes To Your Custody Agreement

There are many different types of custody and visitation arrangements that can be had. Sometimes, what looks good on paper just doesn’t work in practice. If you find that the custody arrangement you’ve settled on just isn’t working, first mention it to your co-parent.

It’s always easiest to make alterations to a custody agreement if both co-parents are on board. If your current agreement has parent communication provisions in place, you’ll want to follow them to request a change.

If your co-parent is not amenable to changes, you’ll need to plan on bringing your requested changes to the court. Make sure to speak with your legal representative to have all the paperwork in place ahead of time.

Creating The Perfect Custody Schedule

Finding the right type of custody for you and your family can be challenging. It may take some time to get it right, but keep sight of your goals and keep your little one in mind. There are enough types of custody situations out there to ensure one will work for you.

Howard is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice. When he isn't spending time with his wife, Kristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.