If you’re a parent, it’s likely that one of the reasons you’ve chosen to mediate your divorce (or at least consider it) is to keep things as amicable as possible between you and your co-parent. Mediation is good practice for working together in the coming years as co-parents.
Among the most important things you’ll negotiate are your custody agreement and parenting plan. If you’ll be sharing physical custody (parenting time), you need to agree on a schedule that works for both of you and – most importantly – your child. By having a schedule in place early, you give your child a much-needed sense of stability in what can feel like an uncertain time.
The schedule will depend on what kind of custody split you agree to. Let’s assume here that you’ll have a more-or-less 50-50 split. How that time is divided between households depends on a number of factors.
A few factors to consider
Your child’s age: If they’re very young, they may not be ready to be away from one parent for more than a night or two, so you may need more frequent transitions. For older kids, the schedule may need to revolve around their extracurricular activities and social lives. This can be easier to do if you and your co-parent will be living near each other.
Your child’s temperament and adaptability: Some kids of all ages don’t deal well with change. If yours doesn’t, it may be better to transition less frequently. However, it also depends on how well they cope with not seeing one of their parents for a few days.
Your own schedules: You obviously have to factor in what kind of work schedules you have. If one of you works long days during the week, for example, it might be better to have your child from Friday afternoon through Monday morning while your co-parent has them the rest of the week.
These are just a few things to consider. Every situation is different depending on the custody division, the child’s needs and how far apart the parents live.
It’s typically a good idea for each parent to come to the mediation session prepared with a few options to consider and then work from there to negotiate a schedule that works for everyone. After getting to know you and your goals, your mediator will help guide you as you work out these and other agreements.