Types of Custody Schedules

Custody Schedule arrangements can vary based upon the awarded physical custody, the child’s needs/activities, and the parent’s work schedule. Many parents with joint physical custody of young children (pre-elementary age) prefer to have multiple short time blocks with the child per week. As the child matures, these time blocks can be adjusted to longer periods with each parent, ie. One-Week time blocks alternating for each parent. Below you will find popular examples of custody schedules for parents that share joint physical custody:

Factors to Consider

If you have previously signed off on a temporary custody order that features a custody schedule that is very unbalanced, it could delay the process of securing a more fairly balanced custody schedule. Be very careful about what you sign off on while things are heated in the early stages of a custody battle. It’s common to feel pressured to sign off on a schedule, just to secure any time with your child, but it’s important to understand the potential consequences of such a hasty move. A temporary custody order will set the standards for what works for your family’s needs and dynamic. The more time passes with this unbalance custody schedule intact, the more difficult it is to prove its inadequacies.

Clearly define how, when, and where exchanges with your child will occur. This can be an emotional time for the child and they may exhibit separation anxiety. Try to set an arrangement that is consistent and non-confrontational. Too many or unfamiliar exchange locations can cause tension and confusion. Witnessing their parents argue during in exchange will make it difficult to motivate your child when preparing for the next exchange. Set guidelines on what can be discussed during an exchange or if discussions must occur in some other platform.

Try to refrain from setting specific guidelines that are unreasonable or too controlling. This will just cause tension in your co-parenting efforts. Your child will be living in two separate households and some aspects of the other home will differ from your home life. For example, trying to set a guideline that orders naptime to be at 1pm everyday is an unreasonable request. The other parent has a different work and home life schedule that can’t always accommodate this very specific guideline. To remedy this, you could make an agreement that states, “Both parents will provide the child with the opportunity to nap during the day.”

*High-Conflict cases will need tighter reins.

Custody Schedule Examples


2-2-3 Custody Schedule


With a 2-2-3 physical custody schedule, the child resides with Parent A for two days, Parent B for the following two days, and then they spend a long three-day weekend with Parent A. The following week, the routine will flip so that the child resides with Parent B for two days, Parent A for the following two days, and then spends a long three-day weekend with Parent B. While maintaining a 50/50 physical custody arrangement, the benefit would be alternating long weekends and equal amount of weekdays. This could be a beneficial schedule for a child of toddler years. As the child grows older, longer stays with each parent can create greater stability.



2-2-5-5 Custody Schedule



With a 2-2-5-5 physical custody schedule, the child resides with Parent A for two days, then Parent B for two days, and then the following five days with Parent A, and then the following five days with Parent B. This provides a longer weekend and stay at each parent’s residence. You may want to adjust what days the 5-day slot falls on, depending on the child’s scheduling needs and the parents’ availability. One big factor that parents want to consider when the child is enrolled full-time in school, is aligning the start of a school week with the start of an exchange.



3-3-4-4 Custody Schedule



With a 3-3-4-4 physical custody schedule, the child spends three days with Parent A, three days with Parent B, and then four days with Parent A, followed by another four days with Parent B. You can adjust what days the longer four-day slots should fall on, depending on the child’s scheduling needs and the parents’ availability. With this arrangement, only one day flips per week. In the example above, that day is Sunday. It’s important to consider which day of the week would be most appropriate to alternate.