Choosing the Right Parenting Schedule
What kind of parenting schedule is best for your child? Deciding which time each parent should spend with their child can be a stressful part of any family law case. Fortunately, there are some tips to make it easier for parents to make this decision.
First and foremost, it’s helpful to understand what is best for children when it comes to parenting time. Studies show that equal amounts of parenting time benefit children most. 50/50 parenting time can reduce conflict in households, reduce the effects household conflict have on children, and help to create close bonds between the child and both parents.
For these reasons, Arizona courts consider equal parenting time to be in the best interests of the child. Because of this, judges will typically do their best to ensure that parenting time is split evenly.
Trying to understand how the Court makes these decisions and create a schedule that both parties prefer can seem impossible. Rather than attempting to create a schedule on their own, parents may want to consider whether existing common options will suit their situation.
Week On/Week Off Parenting Schedule
Perhaps the simplest option is the week on/week off schedule. In this case, each parent has the child with them for an entire week at a time, switching between both parents at a set time every week. This offers the advantage of less driving back and forth for the parents and also fewer opportunities for contact between the parents if they want to minimize their interaction.
There are, however, three major drawbacks. In the first place, many parents do not want to spend an entire week without seeing their child. Most parents prefer to see their child every week rather than every other week.
In addition, not only is this lengthy separation difficult for parents, but it is also particularly hard on young children. Studies find that children begin to form secure attachments to their parents at a young age. The State of Arizona tries to make sure that children have the contact necessary to bond and form secure attachments with both parents. Arizona law presumes that it is in a child’s best interests to have “substantial, frequent, meaningful and continuing parenting time with both parents” A.R.S. § 25-103(B)(1). Young children especially may have difficulty securing these close bonds with their parents when they spend entire weeks apart from one another rather than seeing their parents more frequently.
Lastly, school-age children often want to participate in extracurricular activities requiring the parents to drive them back and forth. It can be more difficult to schedule activities at the same day and time every week if the child is not with the same parent at that day and time each week.
5-2-2-5 Parenting Schedule
The 5-2-2-5 schedule tries to fix these issues and is one of the most common parenting schedule options. In this type of parenting time schedule, each week is split into three different blocks of time. There’s a Monday/Tuesday block, a Wednesday/Thursday block, and a weekend of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Each parent takes either the Monday/Tuesday block or the Wednesday/Thursday block on a continuing basis and they simply alternate weekends.
This is where the name 5-2-2-5 originates. Suppose Party A has the Monday/Tuesday block while Party B has the Wednesday/Thursday block. The lengths of time alternate, following the pattern 5-2-2-5. A schedule on a calendar would look like this:
This plan does require more exchanges between the parents, but it offers the distinct benefit that each parent sees the child at least two full days out of every week. It can also provide more stability during the week for the child’s schedule. This stability makes it easier for them to schedule after school and extracurricular activities.
For example, suppose a child has soccer practice on Mondays and gymnastics on Wednesdays. The 5-2-2-5 parenting schedule ensures that one parent always takes the child to soccer and the other parent always takes the child to gymnastics. This helps a child account for each parent’s schedule and the travel time involved. It also adds quite a bit of stability to a child’s schedule overall.
Where do I go from here?
Parents considering these options should remember that they are designed for situations where both parents split the time 50/50. Parents will also need to divide holidays, such as birthdays. Trying to put together a comprehensive parenting schedule can seem very daunting, even with the help of these common plans.
For this reason, parents who are concerned about protecting the best interests of their child should consult a family law attorney for more help. Phelps & Moore, PLC has a team of talented attorneys who work on family law cases on a daily basis. These attorneys can help you create and agree on a parenting schedule in the best interests of your child. Call (602) 788-2089 to schedule a free 30-minute initial consultation today.
The information and views contained in this posting are not legal advice, nor do they form an attorney-client relationship.