Today’s families are overworked, overcommitted, and stressed out. Children are involved in multiple activities in and out of school, and parents are overwhelmed by transportation logistics and volunteer hours. When these complicated schedules get divided in half following a divorce, a traditional custody arrangement often makes no sense. These days, it’s important to come up with a parenting plan that addresses the lifestyle you lead, rather than trying to force your lives into an inflexible arrangement. If you are lucky enough to have an ex-husband who is willing to be creative, you can devise a plan that keeps disruptions of your children’s lives to a minimum. On the other hand, you may find that the judges are granting more creative custody orders given the uncertain times during the Covid pandemic.
Consider All of Your Options When Creating a Custody Plan
You know your children and their schedules better than anyone. Will their busy lives adapt to an every-other-weekend with Dad plan? Does it make sense to commit to certain holidays with one parent or the other years ahead of time? Can they easily move between two households in the middle of the week? These are the expectations of many traditional custody arrangements, and they might not work for your family. Instead, one or more of the following modern takes on co-parenting after divorce might work better for you:
- Nesting or sharing the family home. More and more families are trying a nesting approach, where the children stay in the family home, and the parents move in and out according to a schedule. Some parents use the same apartment for their off-site residences, while others each have their own private space. This arrangement takes good communication and committed cooperation, but it is the least disruptive to kids. Note: This option has never worked for our clients given that their husbands are jealous narcissists. Additionally, we strongly believe that you deserve your own private space all to yourself.
- Modifying work schedules. If you or your ex has any degree of flexibility in your work schedules, take advantage of it. Can work hours be set to allow for easy school drop-off and pick-up? Can one of you work on weekends when the kids are with the other parent to free up caregiving days during the week? Often, kids’ schedules are more rigid than their parents’ schedules, so instead of disturbing the child’s routine, see what you can do about your own.
- Partial-day custody. Custody plans do not have to work in 24-hour blocks of time. A child could spend after-school time with one parent but go to the other parent’s home to sleep every night. Preschool-aged children could spend the workday with one parent, but morning, evening, and overnight hours with the other.
- Different plans for different children. One plan might not work for every child. While it’s important that siblings have time with each other as well as with each parent, it might make sense for one child to travel on weekends, but not another child because of their friends or other activities. These differences are often age-related, with older kids needing more flexibility than little ones.
- 2-week schedule. In this arrangement, the kids spend a solid two-week block with each parent rather than alternating weeks. This way, they get a weekend with each parent and a little more stability than a weekly schedule allows.
- Activity-friendly schedule. If you have older kids who are committed to a sport, club, or other activity, you might want to build your schedule around theirs. Which parent will travel with the baseball team? If you are required to put in volunteer hours, can you make that a part of the parenting plan to ensure fairness? If a parent is heavily involved with one child’s sport, where does that leave other children? These questions can all be addressed with a smart parenting plan.
- There’s an app for that. There are excellent online programs and apps available to help with creating these unique schedules, as well as to allow everyone—kids, parents, babysitters, grandparents—to keep track of who should be where when.
These kinds of arrangements—or any other creative solution you can envision—can be worked out between you and your ex without court intervention if you are both open to ideas and willing to cooperate.
In Marin County, Nathan Law Offices Is Here for You
Once you have worked out an arrangement, you will want an experienced child custody attorney to help you set it in stone. In Northern California, Paul Nathan and his staff understand the needs of today’s modern families and will help you do what’s best for your children. Fill out the contact form on this page to connect with us today.