Common Parenting Time Schedules

When parents divorce or separate, one of the most important considerations is creating a parenting time schedule that outlines how they will each share time with their children. Massachusetts, like many other states, encourages parents to develop a comprehensive parenting plan that meets the best interests of the children. In this blog, we will explore some of the most common parenting time schedules.

1. Alternating Weeks:
One popular parenting plan schedule is the alternating weeks arrangement. In this schedule, the child resides with one parent for an entire week, followed by a week with the other parent. This arrangement allows for extended periods of time with each parent, providing consistency and stability in the child’s routine. This schedule typically works better for older children who are in middle school or high school.


2. 2-2-5-5 Schedule:
The 2-2-5-5 schedule is another widely adopted arrangement. In this schedule, the children spend two days with one parent, followed by two days with the other parent. Then, the child spends five days with the first parent and five days with the second parent. This cycle repeats, allowing both parents to have regular and consistent time with the child. For illustrative purposes, Mom would always have Mondays and Tuesdays, Dad would always have Wednesdays and Thursdays, and the parties would alternate long weekends with the children from Friday-Sunday. A benefit of this schedule is that it ensures that both parents have alternating long weekends with the children.


3. 3-4-4-3 Schedule:
In the 3-4-4-3 schedule, the children spend three days with one parent, followed by four days with the other parent. Then, the child switches to spending four days with the first parent and three days with the second parent. As an example, Mom would always have Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, Dad would always have Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and the parties would alternate Wednesdays. This schedule is very predictable for children, as there is only one day that switches from week-to-week (Wednesdays).


4. Every Other Weekend:
For parents who are unable to have equal or near-equal time with their children during the week, an every other weekend schedule can be considered. In this arrangement, the children reside primarily with one parent and spends alternating weekends with the other parent. There can also be a mid-week dinner visit (usually on Wednesdays) to ensure that the non-residential/custodial parent has consistent weekly time with their children. This schedule is commonly adopted when one parent has significant work commitments or lives a considerable distance away from the child’s primary residence.

5. Customized Schedules:
It’s worth noting that the parenting time schedules mentioned above are just examples of common schedules, and parents have the flexibility to create a customized plan that suits their own unique circumstances. However, this typically only occurs if the parties mediate or negotiate an agreement for the parenting time schedule. Judges are much more likely to order one of the more standard schedules, which may not accommodate the family’s specific needs.

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