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Parenting Schedules: 101

When couples break up, their relationship ends and they tend to go their separate ways. However, if a couple has kids together, the intimacy may be over, but parenting may continue for years to come. What’s more, when exes have difficulty co-parenting, it may leave the kids caught in the middle of an argument between two parents they love. This article talks about parenting schedules for parents who are no longer together as a couple.

Parenting Schedule?

The name is pretty self-explanatory — a parenting schedule provides parents with a schedule of when they will get to spend time with their kids. Historically, this was referred to as “custody.” However, the term “custody” connotes notions of ownership and Courts now prefer to use the phrase “parenting time.” In any case, a good parenting schedule includes these specific details:

  • Ordinary parenting time, 
  • Holiday parenting time,
  • Vacation parenting time, and
  • Terms regarding exchanges and more specific details.

No Need for a Schedule

We get calls from potential clients where they describe their relationship with the other parent as being good/free from conflict.  The tell us they don’t need a written schedule.  They’ll be able to figure it out as they go.

When parents get along and have good co-parenting skills, it’s absolutely great!  As time goes on though, amicable interactions and cooperation may dwindle. Fights arise over new partners or spouses.  School activities cause scheduling problems.  This is when we get a call from a parent in need of legal help.

Risks of Verbal Agreements

Again, cooperation and positive co-parenting are always encouraged. However, if push comes to shove, and you don’t have an order from the court that details parental responsibilities or otherwise provides a parenting schedule, you may be left holding the short end of the stick if relations sour between you and the other parent. As a result, the lack of a court order is risky business and it leaves both parents relatively unprotected.

A Better Way

Even if you and the other parent get along, there’s no reason to wait on getting a formal agreement approved by the court. In fact, it’s probably better than the two of you work together to reach a plan that works for both of you while you get along. That way, if something occurs in the future that leads to conflict between the two of you, you will both be protected. Even if a Court order is in place, the two of you can always later agree to modify parenting schedules or allow for other deviations should you so choose. The name of the game here is protection. A court order providing for parental responsibilities is much like a fire extinguisher — of course, you hope that there will never be a fire, but you’re certainly better off having one on hand just in case.

Final Thoughts

Parenting schedules are great for all cases involving children. The more you can work together with the other parent to formulate a schedule that is mutually beneficial, the better. Parenting schedules have the additional benefit of providing protection and certainty to both parents and children. If you’re ending things with the other parent of your children, take the time to speak to a family law attorney. Here at MFL, we offer free consultations with our family law attorneys. Take the time to call us today to see what we can do to help you.

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