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Child Custody: How to Organize a Fair Arrangement for Parenting Time

Perhaps there’s no harder stage of divorce than sitting down to create a parenting arrangement. In most cases, parents create an agreement without help from a court. Here are some things to keep in mind as you organize your parenting time arrangement:

Is joint custody practical?

If parents live in different states, joint custody isn’t an option. Your agreement needs to consider who transports the child and who pays for travel. You should address whether the children fly alone and whether the parents must pay for unaccompanied minor supervision.

For co-parents who are close by, you need to think about time splits. Child often benefit from a schedule that accommodates parent work schedules. Younger children might want more frequent exchanges, while older children and parents might prefer longer stretches of time with each parent. It’s also important to address extracurricular activities and any major education decisions.

Child care

You should talk about what happens in the event that a parent needs a caregiver during their parenting time. Should they offer the other parent the time first? If you must offer to the other parent first, this is called a right of first refusal. Usually, a right of first refusal applies when a parent can’t provide direct care for a period of a few hours or more.

An attorney can help

Working with a child custody lawyer like Kelm & Reuter, P.A. can help. Family law attorneys often have a wealth of experience that they can use to help you create a workable agreement. They know what the court requires in a parenting time agreement. For example, many states require parenting time agreements to include language that addresses the child’s international travel and the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. If you don’t include mandatory language the court might not approve your parenting time arrangement.

An attorney can also tell you what other co-parents have found useful in their parenting time arrangements. For example, if you have trouble communicating by phone, you can agree to use written communication or even use a software program such as Our Family Wizard. Borrowing on the experience of other co-parents who have come before you can help you create a plan that’s workable from the beginning.

Together, parents can make a shared parenting schedule that works. When parents work together, they can often create a plan that’s more detailed and flexible than a court might order. Ultimately, a workable schedule can reduce stress and make the future workable for everyone involved.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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