Parents in Virginia who are getting divorced may need to create a parenting plan that addresses how much time their children will spend with each parent. Many courts increasingly encourage parents to try to split their time 50/50 or as close to it as possible. Some parents may assume the best approach to this is for the child to spend alternating weeks with each parent, but there can be some drawbacks to this approach.
Alternating weeks may work well for children who are 12 or older, but for younger children, it can create several different problems. A week is a long time for a young child to be away from a parent, and it could create separation anxiety. Children may be happier with a different type of schedule, and parents may find it easier to work around one that is more flexible.
For example, in the 2-2-3 schedule, children spend the middle two days with one parent and the two and three days on either end with the other parent. The following week, the parents would switch. The 3-4-4-3 operates in a similar way. For some parents and children, a 60/40 schedule works better. For example, children might spend weekdays with one parent and long weekends with the other.
Over the years, a child’s needs may change, leading to the need for a modification in the schedule. Parents may need to return to court in order to put a major modification in place. If parents have more than one child, there might even be situations in which different schedules for each child work best. If parents are able to negotiate an agreement about child custody and visitation, they might prefer this over going to litigation since it can give them more say in the final schedule.