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Tips for Making a Child Custody Schedule

Updated on March 17, 2010

Are You Making a Custody Schedule?

If you are one of the thousands of newly divorcing or separated parents, you are most likely in the process of creating a child custody schedule. Creating this schedule can be very difficult and overwhelming--so don't give up! To help you make it through the process, here are some tips and suggestions for making a really great schedule.

Making a good custody schedule is important.
Making a good custody schedule is important.

The Basics of the Schedule

To begin with, let's look at the basic components of the schedule, and then we'll go through and give suggestions for making that part. The four main sections of the schedule that you need to make are:

  1. The repeating cycle of custody and visitation,
  2. A holiday schedule,
  3. Vacation time, and
  4. Special events.

The Repeating Cycle of Custody and Visitation

Custody schedules are built on the foundation of the repeating cycle of custody and visitation. Basically, this schedule spells out exactly where the children are every day of the week. To make this schedule, parents usually outline the custody arrangement they have for a certain number of weeks, then they repeat that schedule through the year.

For example, if you are making a schedule and you give yourself custody during the week and two overnight visits and the weekend to the other parent, you have a one week repeating cycle. If you have a schedule of alternating every week of custody, you have a two week repeating cycle.

The best suggestion I have for making this part of the schedule is to sit down with a page that has the days of the week on top. Then make your schedule until you have it right. Count the number of weeks and then put it on a calendar by repeating every so many weeks.

Make a repeating cycle by writing out your schedule for a certain number of weeks.
Make a repeating cycle by writing out your schedule for a certain number of weeks.

The Holiday Schedule

The holiday schedule is where the child will spend the holidays. This schedule is pretty straight forward to make. You simply need to gather a list of all the holidays you want included (you can pick from school, national, and religious holidays) and then assign each parent custody of them. You also need to decide the length of the holiday and how the parents will alternate holidays.

A helpful tip is to write out a list of the holidays first, then put the length of the holiday, and then assign the holiday to a parent. Each parent should have equal holiday time. Then, you can come up with a system for alternating the holidays--maybe you switch every year. Finally, put the holidays on the calendar for the year.

Vacations and Special Events

The final part of your schedule is to put in vacations and special events. Vacations are the times that each parent is allowed to take the child on vacation. A special event is any time the normal custody changes.

For vacations, you can have specified or unspecified vacations. The specified vacation is an actual date that the parents have for going on vacation with the children. These can simply be written in the calendar. An unspecified vacation is a clause that states the parents may take the children on vacation for so many days of the year. The parents can then take the children after notifying the other parent.

Special events are things like birthday parties, sporting events, and other curricular activities that your child is involved in. If you know of times when the schedule will change, write it in. Most special events come up during the year.

A custody calendar with all the time filled out.
A custody calendar with all the time filled out.

The Finished Product

Once you put all these parts together, you have a complete custody schedule. And, you can sit back and enjoy the time you have with your children.

What type of custody schedule do you have?

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