I am often asked, “What is a typical parenting plan in a divorce case”? Many people believe (assuming the mother works part-time or is a “stay-at-home” mother and the father works full time) that the children will be with the father as follows: (a) every other weekend from Friday evening through Sunday at dinner time and (b) have dinner with him one evening a week. While this may have been common practice 20 or 30 years ago, it is no longer typical.
Many top Fairfield County divorce lawyers will tell you that the every other weekend concept more commonly (a) starts on Friday and ends on the return to school Monday morning, or (b) starts on Thursday after school and extends to Sunday evening or Monday morning. A major factor in this determination is where both parties live and work in relation thereto. If the parties reside in, for example, Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien, Stamford, Westport or Fairfield, and the father commutes to New York City, and has little flexibility with his work schedule, then the parenting plan would be more reflective of those from 25 years ago. However, if the father has some flexibility or works close to where he lives then it is more common for every other weekend to expand and have an additional midweek overnight.
Assuming the father is an actively involved parent and in the event he lives for example in Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien, Fairfield or Westport, and works in close proximity to the residence, for example, in Stamford, he could have a true 50/50 parenting plan. One common 50/50 plan many top divorce lawyers refer to is the 2-2-5. This would mean that every Monday and Tuesday the children would be with the mother and every Wednesday and Thursday with the father. The weekends would rotate. Accordingly, in week one of the plan the mother would have the children Monday, Tuesday, the father Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and in week two the mother would have them Monday, Tuesday, the father Wednesday, Thursday and the mother Friday, Saturday, Sunday into Monday and Tuesday. While this may seem confusing on its face, according to many therapists, children prefer the predictability of this type of plan because they know that every single Monday and Tuesday they are with the same parent and every Wednesday and Thursday with the other. It gives a child great continuity and predictability. It is certainly better than a jumpy plan in which children are with a parent different days of the week on a week by week basis.
There is no magic formula to devising a parenting plan. The best plan occurs when the parties work together or with the help of a mental health professional. Also, both parties must have flexibility as children’s needs change as they get older. They also should not count days, hours, overnights, etc. If they do, it will become a quite costly exercise and will only serve to create additional animosity and stress during an incredibly difficult time. Of course, the best parenting plan is one the parties sign and never have to look at again. More on Parenting Plans