Child Custody and Visitation: Getting the Basic Parenting Schedule in Place

Rincker Law Family/Matrimonial Law Leave a Comment

mother and daughter spend time in a cafe in the city

Parents should decide on a “basic parenting time schedule” that the parents will conduct in a regular week.  Parents should consider what is reasonable taking into consideration the location of the parent’s home, the parent’s schedule and the child’s schedule.

If the parents do not live near each other, the parenting schedule deviates from regular short-term access such as every other weekend to less regular, long-term access such as school vacations and a month during the summer.

If one parent has primary physical custody then the parents should decide the best visitation schedule to help foster a positive relationship between the non-custodial parent and the child.  For example, the non-custodial parent might have parenting time every other weekend from Friday afterschool to Sunday night and every Wednesday night.  Here is what that schedule might look like in a 4 week interval:


Wk1 NCP* 3pm to overnight NCP take child to school at 8am NCP 3pm-overnight NCP – all day/night NCP until 6pm. CP** to pick up from NCP
Wk2 NCP 3pm-overnight NCP – all day/night NCP until 6pm. CP to pick up from NCP
Wk3 NCP 3pm to overnight NCP take child to school at 8am NCP 3pm- overnight NCP – all day/night NCP until 6pm. CP to pick up from NCP
Wk4 NCP 3pm- overnight NCP – all day/night NCP until 6pm. CP to pick up from NCP

*Non-Custodial Parent (“NCP”)       **Custodial Parent (“CP”)

In the above illustration, the custodial parent is picking up the child from the non-custodial parent’s home.  This is negotiable and can be flip-flopped.  Alternatively, parents might decide on a mutually convenient “drop-off and pick-up location” or the exchange takes place by dropping off and picking the child from school.

There is no “rule” when it comes to a basic parenting time.  Parents can think creatively when determining a workable plan.  For example, perhaps the non-custodial parent can pick the child up from school each day; after a few hours of parenting time, that parent can deliver to child to the custodial parent’s home.  This afterschool visitation might be in addition to weekend time.

If the parents decide on a “joint physical custody arrangement” then the parents might alternate weeks (i.e., Monday thru Sunday).  Alternatively, the parents might use a 2 day/5 day schedule where the child would be with one parent for two days (Monday and Tuesday), then the other parent for 2 days (Wednesday and Thursday), and alternate weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  An example 2 day/5 day schedule might look like this on a four-week interval:


Week 1 Dad* Dad Mom Mom Dad Dad Dad
Week 2 Dad Dad Mom Mom Mom Mom Mom
Week 3 Dad Dad Mom Mom Dad Dad Dad
Week 4 Dad Dad Mom Mom Mom Mom Mom


This 2/5 schedule works well with the drop-off and pick-up occurring at the school. The parent with the weekend parenting time is responsible for picking the child up from school on Friday afternoon and getting the child to school on time on Monday morning.

The key is to create a schedule that best accommodates everyone’s schedules, is predictable for scheduling appointments and activities and offers a degree of flexibility.

* Mom and Dad are used here for illustrative purposes only.  The family may have two Moms or two Dads.

This is an excerpt from my new book “Onward and Upward:  Guide for Getting Through New York Divorce & Family Law Issues” available on Amazon, Kindle and iBooks. This is an except from the chapter I wrote with the talented Bonnie Mohr.  I also wrote the Chapter on Mediation, which also discusses mediation on disputes like this.  Not only am I a family law litigator, but I am also a trained mediator for divorce, child custody and visitation disputes, and commercial mediation. The book is chalk full of great advice on a myriad of family law issues ranging from prenups, child custody disputes, and divorce/annulments.  The book’s special sauce is that it has over 48 authors, including many nonlawyer authors, writing on both legal and nonlegal topics.  More info on the book can be found here.

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