This may be one of the most important issue parents must resolve, but it can also be one of the most difficult. You can tackle this in one of two ways. If you need an arrangement to hold you over temporarily, you can start by deciding whether the children will have one primary residence or alternate between the two homes. For example, you can agree to:
- One primary residence With this option, the children spend more time with one parent. For example, you could agree that the children live with one parent during the week, and the other parent on weekends or alternating weekends; or
- Alternating homes. With this option, the children spend approximately equal amounts of time with each parent. For example, you could agree that the children alternate weeks, or half-weeks, in each parent’s home.
Once you and the other parent are ready to establish a long-term schedule, you will need to be much more specific. Your goal should be to have your children spend as much time as possible with each parent, without ignoring their needs for stability, routine, and emotional and physical safety. This can be challenging if domestic violence, emotional abuse, child abuse, or similar behavior have been issues in the past. (LINK TO DV INFO) In evaluating the options below, consider:
- the ages, needs, wishes, and temperaments of your children
- the distance between your homes
- available transportation
- what you can afford, and
- how well you and the other parent work
With a little creativity, you should be able to come up with several possible solutions, each presenting advantages and disadvantages. Below is information on the various options that other parents have chosen. Read through this information, and then you can begin filling out your agreement form.