Many parents getting divorced want to have their parenting time divided as evenly as possible. Prior to the separation both parents have been heavily involved in care-taking activities. In many instances, both parents agree that they should keep it that way. Other times there is disagreement. One parent believes they should have primary custody and the other parent wants an evenly divided plan.
What is the “Best” Equal Parenting Plan?
Whether by agreement or not, this is one question we get all of the time.
Of course, there is no one size fits all answer. As lawyers, we will never dictate a parenting plan for a client. However, we want to present realistic options to propose. One option we have seen work well in many instances is called the “2-5” plan. Actually, from the children’s perspective it’s “2-2-5-5”, which is how the nights alternate. Going by nights with each parent, this is how it works: Monday & Tuesday nights with one parent; Wednesday & Thursday nights with the other parent; Friday through Sunday nights alternating.
Drawn out a calendar it looks like this (say mom has Mondays & Tuesdays and dad has Wednesday & Thursdays):
Although not spelled out in this table, the transitions usually occur after the school day ends. In this example, therefore, Mom would pick up the children from school (or daycare, camp, after school care, whatever the situation) every Monday afternoon . She would have the children through drop off on Wednesday morning and then Dad would get the children Wednesday afternoon. If it’s his weekend, he will keep them through drop-off on Monday morning. Otherwise, Mom would get them on Friday afternoon and have them through the weekend until Monday morning. Over any given two or four-week period the split is equal.
This plan tends to work well when the parents both live close to each other and/or near the school. One of the biggest upsides is that the days are very predictable for the children and parents. Each parent gets an even amount of weekend and weekday time. The transitions are entirely through the school which minimizes tension that often occurs during exchanges.
Of course, there are usually additional provisions for holidays, vacations, and so forth. But the regular schedule is simple and even. It’s not for everyone and especially won’t work when parents live far apart. But many divorced parents have reported to us that the plan has worked well for their family.