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Planning ahead: 4 child custody schedule examples

Your goal for your divorce is simple: Set up a child custody plan that puts your children first. Your spouse agrees. Whatever differences the two of you may have, you absolutely want what is best for the kids. You hope to both stay involved, and that means creating a viable schedule.

This schedule needs to fit with your own schedules. You have work, hobbies, peers, social lives and other obligations. However, the schedule also has to fit with the kids' lives. They may be involved in sports and other after-school activities, on top of going to classes. They're counting on you, and you don't want the divorce to make it impossible for them to keep doing what they love.

Below are a few examples of potential joint custody schedules:

The 2-2-3 Rotating Schedule

This schedule involves a lot of transferring, but it also means that you get breaks from the children in the middle of the week and you split up those valuable weekends. The first week, you have the kids on Sunday and Monday. Then your ex gets them on Tuesday and Wednesday. After that, they come back to your home for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, you give them back to your ex and the schedule flips for the next week.

The Alternating Week Schedule

This schedule is one of the easiest, most straightforward schedules you can make. First, you get the children from Sunday through Friday. After school on Friday, your ex picks the kids up. He or she has them all weekend and all of the next week. They continue to switch homes every Friday, making for a seamless transition.

The Midweek Visit

The main downfall of the Alternating Week Schedule is that you don't see the kids for seven days. For some parents, that's too long to be away. The midweek visit is essentially the same, but the parent who does not have the kids for that week takes them for dinner on Tuesday or Wednesday. The kids can go to that parent's home after school and then come back before bed. This gives one parent a nice evening off while letting the other catch up with the kids.

The 3-3-4-4 Rotation

This plan is a bit more complex, but it can make the kids' lives easier. It starts with you taking the children for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Then they go to your ex for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, they come back to you, and they stay until Tuesday. Then they go to your ex for the rest of the week, including Saturday. Essentially, they know that they'll always live with you for the beginning of the week and your ex for the end of the week, but you get to switch those valuable Saturdays back and forth.

Your plan must be right for your unique situation

You don't have to use one of these four parenting plans, but they help to show you some of the options and their pros and cons. Carefully consider your legal rights and your specific situation when deciding what is best for you and your children.

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