Creating Your Parenting Time Schedule / Calendar
This article covers the elements that are included in an effective custody schedule, as well as guidelines to make sure it runs smoothly.
You can create your own parenting time schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates parenting time schedules, calendars, and parenting plans.
Your parenting time schedule should include:
- A complete residential schedule
- A holiday schedule
- A school break and vacation schedule
- Information about vacations, and other special events
As you make your schedule, you need to place your child's needs first and make your schedule around what will work for your child. You should consider your child's age, personality, needs, and wishes as you make your schedule.
You should also think about some practical matters that will affect how the schedule will work. Consider both parents' work schedules, how close you live to the other parent, etc.
The residential schedule is the foundation of your parenting time schedule because it shows where your child is during the week and on weekends. To make this schedule, map out the parenting time for a few weeks and then repeat the schedule for those weeks through the year.
Some common residential schedules include:
- The child living with one parent for a week and then living with the other parent for a week
- The child living with one parent during the week and spending time with the other parent every weekend or on alternating weekends
- The child living with one parent during the week and spending an evening or overnight with the other parent during the week along with spending weekend time with that parent
- The child living with one parent for half of the week and living with the other parent during the other half of the week
- Any variation of the child living with one parent and having time with the other parent
Custody X Change has sample residential schedules that you can modify to fit your situation. You can also make your residential schedule from scratch. The software applies your repeating schedule to the whole year and you can see how it looks in the calendar.
When creating your residential schedule with Custody X Change, you can:
- View the timeshare percentage of both parents
- Explore different options for parenting time
- Create a custom schedule that works for you and the other parent
Once you have your residential schedule in place, you can add the holiday schedule. The holiday schedule takes precedence over the residential schedule, which means that the parent who has the child for holiday time gets the child even if the other parent is normally scheduled to have the child.
Here are the steps for making your holiday schedule:
- Make a list of all of the holidays you want to put in the schedule (these can be national, religious, and school holidays).
- Decide how long each holiday lasts. Does a Monday holiday mean the entire weekend? Is Thanksgiving just for the day or a four day weekend? Is Christmas divided into two time periods for the holiday?
- Allocate the holiday time between the parents. Make sure that each parent has about the same number of small and large holidays.
- Come up with a method for switching the holidays every year. You can alternate the holidays or make a new schedule every year.
To make your holiday schedule in Custody X Change, you simply choose the holidays you want to include and put in the holiday times. You can choose from the list of holidays in the software and make your own holidays. The software then puts your holiday time into the calendar.
You can make a residential schedule for the school year and a different one for school breaks like winter and summer vacation. This can be a good option if you want both parents to have equal parenting time but your child needs more stability for school. The alternate residential schedule is usually called a vacation schedule.
You can also include time where each parent takes the child on vacation in your schedule.
- You can have a specified vacation where you specify vacation dates for each parent
- You can have an unspecified vacation where you include a clause that allows each parent to take the child on vacation for so many days after giving the other parent notice.
Special events are times when the normal schedule changes. If you know about special events before they happen (like your child's birthday, extra-curricular activities that your child is involved in, etc) then you can put the changes right in the schedule. This helps both parents know what is going on.
Custody X Change lets you set up multiple residential schedules for your child's school vacation time. You can also include a specified or unspecified vacation to your schedule.
You can also stay on top of special events and other changes in the schedule with the software. Whenever you need to change the parenting time, you can go to the calendar and adjust it and have a new parenting time schedule.
With Custody X Change, you can:
- Print new copies of your schedule
- Export your information to Word, PDF, or Excel and email the info to the other parent
- Sync your new custody schedule with your Blackberry, iPhone, Palm/PDA, Outlook, Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, Windows Live, etc.
Along with creating all of the parts of your schedule, you may also want to think about some extra guidelines or rules that will help your schedule run smoothly. These rules are sometimes called custody provisions.
Some common provisions that can help your schedule are:
- A method for making changes to the parenting time schedule
- A method for the parents to communicate about the child
- Information about transportation to and from exchanges
- Rules about traveling with the child
- A process for resolving disputes that arise over the schedule
- Anything else that will help your schedule work better
You may want to think about some areas with your schedule that cause you problems. Then you can think of a provision that addresses that issue so you can avoid problems in the future.
Custody X Change has a list of provisions (the ones above and others) that you can put in your plan to help visitation work better. You can also write your own provisions to include in the plan.
You may want to track your actual parenting time and keep a parenting time journal once your schedule is in place or as you create your schedule. Tracking and journaling can help you feel more in control of your custody situation.
Tracking your visitation time lets you know if the schedule is being followed and if it is working. If the schedule isn't being followed, you may need to make some changes to it so it works better. And, if the actual parenting time is quite different then the scheduled time, your child support could change.
You can also keep a parenting time journal where you record information about your time with your children. You can use these notes when you communicate with the other parent, or just keep them for your personal records.
Custody X Change has an actual-time tracking and journaling feature that lets you:
- Enter in the actual parenting time and compare it to the scheduled parenting time
- Print a report that shows the difference between scheduled and actual parenting time
- Keep a custody journal and write notes about what happens during parenting time
- Print your parenting time journal
- Keep all of your tracking information in one place
- Use the documents from the software to modify your schedule in court or mediation