Equal Equal Equal Parenting Time
Written by: Stefano Ceroni
It seems to be the recent trend of late for judges to award parties equal parenting time whenever there are no fitness issues or practicality concerns that would otherwise warrant a less than equal arrangement.
Equal parenting time time is not preferred by all
For some, the idea of spending only half of any given week, month or year with their child is actually quite scary. As a result, many people try to avoid changing their current routine any more than it absolutely has to change. Others, however, object to the idea of an equal parenting time plan not out of fear, but rather, because they feel they deserve more than equal time due to the fact that they were once the child[ren]’s primary caretaker. And, unfortunately, there are even those who simply choose not to accept an equal parenting time arrangement because of their misplaced desire to obtain additional child support.
Nevertheless, no matter which category one falls into, it seems as if many people will have to get used to the idea of sharing equal parenting time with their ex, despite their emotional discontent.
Not everything that is equal is the same
However, before conceding complete defeat, parties who are initially uncomfortable with sharing equal parenting time should consider the fact that not everything that is equal is necessarily the same.
You see, there is no such thing as one equal parenting time arrangement. In fact, equal parenting time schedules can be achieved in a myriad of different ways. So, depending on your or your ex’s schedules, there may be room for negotiating an agreement that better serves your needs and interests, even if it does result in equal parenting time.
For example, here are five (5) of the most common types of equal parenting time plans that we as attorneys see implemented, each with its own set of different advantages.
1. The 5-2-2-5
In this schedule, the mid-week days of Mon-Thurs are equally divided and the weekend days of Fri-Sun are shared on all alternating basis. For example, one party receives parenting time every Monday and Tuesday, while the other party receives parenting time every Wednesday and Thursday. Then, the parties rotate the weekend parenting time days of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. According to this schedule, each parent receives parenting time in either a 2 day or 5 day increment, depending on the particular week; hence the plan being called a 5-2-2-5.
The traditional 5-2-2-5 parenting plan is probably the most common equal parenting time schedule that we see in Arizona today. Many judges prefer this plan to other plans because of the following advantages:
a.) It allows for all exchanges to occur at school or daycare, which means less face-to-face contact between the parents. (This can be a great thing when the parties are experiencing high-conflict.);
b.) It is a consistent plan that offers a high amount of predictability; and
c.) It allows both parents to have two five-day blocks of parenting time per month.
2. The 4-3-3-4
The 4-3-3-4 plan is very similar to the 5-2-2-5 plan with the exception that each party consistently receives 3 consecutive days of parenting time each and every week (as opposed to 2), with the 7th day being rotated on an alternating basis. For example, one parent may have parenting time every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday while the other parent has every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The parties would then rotate parenting time each Wednesday. Of course, the parties are not limited to having Wednesday be the rotating 7th day and could choose any day as a possible alternative.
This plan is a great solution for those parents who have reverse work schedules. For example, if one parent works primarily on the weekend while the other parent has a more traditional weekday job, the parties can use this schedule as a way of maximizing the time each parent gets to spend with the child[ren].
3. Week-on /Week-off
As the name of this schedule clearly implies, the parties equally divide their parenting time on a rotating weekly basis. This schedule allows each parent to have 7 consecutive days of parenting time twice per month. This schedule also has the advantage of requiring only one exchange each week.
This schedule is usually a favorite of those parents who have older children, as younger children are often opposed to spending so much time away for each parent at any one time.
4. Split Week
The split week schedule is very similar to the 4-3-3-4 schedule with the exception that the 7th day is equally divided as opposed to rotated. For example, one party would receive Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and the first-half of Wednesday while the other party would receive the second half of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. As you can see, this schedule simply divides the week into two equal segments.
The advantage of this schedule is that the child[ren] never go more than three days without seeing a parent. In addition, this schedule allows each parent to have a weekend day with the child[ren] each and every week.
5. The 2-2
In a 2-2 schedule, the parents rotate parenting time every two days. For example, during week 1, parent 1 would have parenting time on Sunday and Monday, then parent 2 would receive Tuesday and Wednesday, then the child[ren] would go back to parent 1 for Thursday and Friday, then be returned to parent 2 for Saturday and Sunday (the start of week 2).
Due to the high amount of exchanges required by this schedule, it is only recommended for those parents who have a high degree of communication and a low level of conflict. The advantage of this plan is that the child[ren] never go more than two days without seeing a parent. In addition, the 2 block days allow parents to have plenty of bonding time, especially during a child’s formative years.
As you can see from the examples above, there are a variety of different ways that parents can share equal time with their kids. So, before completely dismissing the idea that an equal parenting time schedule could work for you, review the potential options and reflect on how the different plans above may be able to put your concerns at ease.
For complete list of suggested parenting time plans, visit: Arizona’s Guide for Parents Living Apart.