When parents split up they have to agree on how to share parenting in the future.
Shared parenting is another word for co-parenting.
This happens when the court awards parents joint custody of their children – that is equal parenting responsibilities.
Co-parenting is not easy; it is fraught with conflict. After all, for most people, it’s very difficult to get along with an ex and when there are children involved, it’s even more difficult.
Parents argue about where the kids should be staying and for how long, or who will pick them up from school, and so on and on.
To make things easier and avoid constant conflict, you need a co-parenting calendar.
What is a co-parenting calendar template?
A co-parenting calendar is a tool for divorced or separated parents to help arrange daily activities and sleeping arrangements for their children.
The calendar template is a suggestive layout of the calendar which can be created either by an App or created by a parent in any popular program like Google Calendar or Excel.
It is a guideline on how to make the calendar.
A co-parenting calendar is an important document required by the court as part of the divorce proceedings. The document clearly lays out what each parent’s responsibilities are in raising their children and when they have to be done.
A co-parenting calendar serves to avoid conflict between two people who are parents but no longer romantically involved.
The schedule is clearly laid out and both parents have access to the calendar in case changes are needed.
Different types of co-parenting schedules
This is the most simple co-parenting schedule: the child spends one week with one parent and the next week with the other parent.
This goes on for the whole year and the week can start on any day of the week: from Monday to Sunday or Friday to Thursday, and so forth.
Some parents agree to allow a visit to the other parent during their week.
2.The 3-4-4-3 schedule
The 3-4-4-3 schedule lets your child stay with one parent for 3 days of the week and with the other parent for 4 days.
The following week it changes over, so you have the child for 4 days and the other parent has the child for 3 days.
This schedule can be varied to look like any of the following, but it still boils down to the same repeating schedule: a 4-3-4-3 schedule, a 3-4-3-4 schedule, a 4-4-3-3 schedule or a 3-3-4-4 schedule.
3.The 2-2-5-5 schedule
With this schedule, your child lives with you for 2 days and then with the other parent for 2 days.
After that, the child comes to you for 5 days and then 5 days with the other parent.
This schedule can also look different: a 5-5-2-2 schedule, a 2-5-5-2 schedule, a 5-2-2-5 schedule, a 2-5-2-5 schedule or a 5-2-5-2 schedule.
What is means is that over any 14 days, your child will stay with you for 7 days and with the other parent for 7 days.
4.The 2-2-3 schedule
With the 2-2-3 co-parenting schedule, you have the children for two days, then the children go to the other parent for the next two days, and then they come back to you for a three-day weekend.
It works out that each parent has the children for two days during the week and then the parents alternate with long weekends. So each parent will have a long weekend off every second week.
With this schedule, children move around a lot, so if the school is far or parents live a considerable distance from each other, this might not be the best schedule for them.
Factors to consider when creating a calendar schedule
As far as possible, your child’s physical, emotional and social needs should be taken into consideration when you create a co-parenting schedule. Here we discuss some factors that you should take into consideration.
Your child’s age and temperament
Take your child’s age into consideration. For instance, if your child is still very young he or she might be more comfortable sleeping over at mommy for the first couple of months.
On the other hand, teenagers usually have an established schedule of activities and will probably figure out how the exchanges will work out best for them.
As far as temperament goes, some children are easygoing and don’t mind change while others are happier with a fixed routine. Of course, if you have children with different temperaments, you’ll have to settle for a schedule that suits most people, not just one.
If your child has any special needs
Your child might have special needs like developmental issues that require physio or occupational therapy sessions. Prioritize these in the schedule. Extra academic classes would be included here.
The daily schedule
Think about your child’s current schedule.
Is he in school? What time does school start and end?
Does he attend day-care or kindergarten?
Plan the exchange for when the school day ends, or the time the child must be fetched from day-care.
Other siblings and family
Don’t split up your family more than it needs to be.
Remember you and your ex don’t want to be together, but the family still exists.
Protect and nurture your children’s relationship with each other and other family members.
If you have decided to have custody of different children, don’t let them become strangers to the rest of the family.
Your co-parenting schedule should allow time for each child to have time with brothers and sisters and other family members, like aunts and cousins.
Parents who have more than one child might want to spend some alone time with each child to nurture their relationship.
If at all possible, try to work this special time into the schedule even if it’s only once in one or two months.
Travel time while going from one parent to another
If the distance from your home to the other parent is substantial, it will impact the co-parenting schedule.
It will prevent you from having a schedule where children go from one parent to the other very often.
If you live close to each other, it will allow for a more flexible schedule.
The distance each parent’s home is from the school or day-care facility will also impact the schedule.
For instance, if one parent lives close to the school and the other parent lives quite a distance away, it might be practical for the child to stay with the parent close to the school during the week and with the other parent over the weekends.
Handling holidays and special occasions
Depending on your situation with work, your children will alternate between you and your ex for holiday stays. Don’t ignore your ex’s birthday. That will hurt your child. See that your child has a birthday card or present ready.
For special days like Christmas and Thanksgiving Day, try to alternate the children’s visits to each parent.
Drop off/pick up for school and extracurricular activities
Make a list of each child’s extracurricular activities with the corresponding times that they must be dropped off and picked up and work that into the schedule.
The importance of documenting a shared parenting schedule
Once you have agreed on a shared parenting schedule, print the schedule out for each of you so you can refer to it and so there are no excuses for missing a drop-off or a pick-up. The document should be signed by both parties.
Helping a child adjust to a shared parenting schedule
Getting used to a new way of life can be stressful for children. They have to adjust to a new schedule and at least one completely new environment. And they have to get used to being with just one parent.
The times when the children transition from one home to the other can be especially stressful and should be handled with great sensitivity by both parents.
Don’t spring sudden changes on children. Inform them well in advance of their schedule and never rush them. They will also feel more at home at both places if they have their basic necessities like toothbrushes, hairbrushes and pajamas at both homes. It also avoids the stress of maybe forgetting it at the other home.
Try your best to avoid open conflict during changeover times. These times are already stressful, don’t add to it with snide remarks or an attitude – kids pick up on that.
After a stayover, don’t expect your child to walk into the house and be at home and chatty immediately. Just let the child be for a while so he can adjust to his new environment and you. Hold back on questions about their stay at the other parent – it causes inner conflict in a child.
Any danger or history of abuse
If there is a history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by one of the parents this must be taken into account. The parent who has been guilty of this behavior might only be afforded supervised visitation. The same goes for a parent who has a problem with substance abuse or has committed criminal acts.
Flexibility to change and modify the schedule
Once you’ve worked out your co-parenting schedule, try it out for a few weeks to see what works and what doesn’t, so you can make changes if needed. Be flexible and realistic – there are bound to be some hick-ups. Expect them and be prepared to make some changes.
Co-parenting calendar templates and Apps
We have searched online for printable co-parenting calendars to ease this difficult task for you.
CustodyXChange is an app that creates co-parenting calendars. There is a free version that doesn’t provide a printed calendar. The Silver version is $17 per month or $97 per year and there is a Gold version as well at $27 per month and $147 per year.
CalendarsthatWork.com provides a free printable calendar every month. You can keep one on the refrigerator for everyone to see or give each child one.
OurFamilyWizard.com lets parents create free virtual custody calendars that are updated in real- time. This is not a printable calendar; each parent will have it on their smartphone.
pdfFiller provides free custody calendar forms that you can fill in according to your schedule needs.
Frequently asked questions
What is a fair custody schedule?
A fair custody schedule is one that allows the children more or less equal time with both parents. An exact 50/50 schedule is not always practical. As mentioned before, an alternative week schedule is simple and fair. However, it’s not always possible for both parties due to work and other commitments.
A fair custody agreement will look different for different families. The important thing is to arrange the schedule in such a way that it minimizes conflict while giving children and parents enough time with each other.
How many overnights is full custody?
Full custody is another term for sole custody. If a parent has full custody, the children will be with that parent full time; that is every day and every night.
How many overnights in 60/40 custody?
With this schedule, a child spends 60% of the time with one parent and 40% of the time with the other parent. That works out to 4 days with one parent and 3 days with the other parent.
This schedule works for parents who both want to spend a lot of time with a child, but they can’t accommodate the many exchanges of a 50/50 schedule.
A split-up is very difficult and in most cases, the couple finds it hard to communicate afterward. However, if there are children, they don’t have a choice. A co-parenting calendar can be invaluable to help parents continue raising their children while minimizing conflict.
As we have seen, there are many different schedules that parents can consider. There is no right or wrong schedule; there is what will work for you and your family.
As a rough guideline, if you and your ex live far apart try out a schedule that doesn’t require children to move from one parent to the other very often.