Alternating weekends and one midweek night a week just isn’t the right parenting time schedule for everyone. Far too often, when parenting time happens is taken for granted. When it is, you could find yourself missing a lot of your kids’ lives.
Whether you are in the midst of a divorce or battling over custody, your parenting time schedule can make a big difference in how happy you are with the outcome of your case. Here are a few things to consider before you sign a Consent Judgment.
How Good vs How Much
Far too often, decisions regarding parenting time are centered around the number of overnights each person will have. For some, all that matters is where the kids go to bed at night. This quantity over quality decision making is driven by money. Since child support is calculated by the overnight, that can become the all-important question, leaving out who gets to spend time with the children while they are awake.
Instead of focusing on where the children will sleep, focus on when you will be able to have the best quality time with your children. If you work second shift, for example, a midweek overnight may not make sense – since by the time you get off work the children will be getting ready for bed anyway. But if you have Mondays off, that might be the right night to spend with your children, since you will be able to devote your attention to them.
Don’t Ignore Daytime Parenting Time
Daytime parenting time visits may not count toward your child support, but they certainly count toward your bond with your children. Don’t discount an evening midweek or the opportunity to take your children to school in the morning. Those few hours could mean more one-on-one parenting time and a chance to really get to know your son or daughter.
Find Ways to Be Flexible
For some parents, a rigid parenting time schedule can be a recipe for disaster. Particularly when their work schedules are ever-changing, it can be hard to commit to pick ups, drop offs, and quality parenting time. If you have a fluctuating work life, try to find ways to build flexibility into your parenting time order. You may be able to provide your co-parent your weekly work schedule and adjust visitation or overnights to match your days off.
What Holidays Are Important to Your Family?
Every county in Michigan has a default holiday parenting time schedule. It usually alternates holidays on odd and even years and divides school breaks between the parties. But just because it is the usual doesn’t mean it is right for your family. Before signing a Consent Judgment, look at your holiday parenting time. Particularly if you have a strong ethnic or religious heritage, you might find some important dates missing, like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Chinese New Year, or Solstice. Ask your family lawyer to customize your holiday parenting time to recognize those holidays that are important to you and your children.
There is no one-size-fits-all parenting time schedule. If the schedule you sign on to doesn’t fit, it could lead to years of frustration and irritation. Don’t settle for default. Have a conversation with your family law attorney to make sure your parenting time schedule works for you.
Lisa J. Schmidt is a family law attorney at Schmidt Law Services, PLLC, in Ferndale, Michigan. She handles divorce and custody matters across Metro-Detroit. If you are looking for a parenting time schedule you can live with, contact Schmidt Law Services today to schedule a free consultation.