Custody Schedules for School Age Children
There are many factors involved in constructing a custody schedule for you and your kids' busy lifestyle. Make sure to keep the following information in mind.
You can create your own custody and visitation 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 custody schedules and parenting plans. You make each part of your schedule, and then you can print your calendar and plan.
A custody schedule helps divorced parents continue to work together to raise their children in the most loving, effective and supportive way possible. Raising children is difficult even for married parents, but when you and the other parent are separated, the challenges increase.
A custody schedule outlines where your children will be on any given day of the year, including holidays and vacations. It is also important to have a working shared custody schedule because you and the other parent live in separate homes, making relationships between you and with your children more complicated.
As parents, you know what kind of schedule will meet your children's needs best. Depending on factors such as your children's age, maturity, school schedule and special needs, you and the other parent can work together to create a workable schedule that offers the least disruption to your kids, yet gives each parent plenty of quality time.
Custody X Change software is designed to help separated parents work out a custody schedule for children of all ages. The software includes templates to get you started and easy-to-follow instructions for creating a visual calendar of the custody schedule.
Before designing a custody schedule for your family, look at the unique factors that contribute to your former and current family life. A realistic assessment can help you create an outline of a schedule that can be filled in as you reach agreements.
As you begin creating a shared custody schedule for your school age children, you and the other parent will benefit from honestly answering these 10 questions about your family:
- What do you feel is each child's most important individual need?
- What are your children's most important issues as a group?
- What responsibilities did each of you have concerning parenting before you separated?
- What is your level of involvement in your child's life outside of school, such as sports or music?
- What are your strengths as parents?
- What are your weaknesses as parents?
- How do you envision shared parenting to your children?
- What is each child's relationship with his or her siblings?
- What do each of your children prefer concerning schedules?
- Are you both willing to put your children’s needs before your own?
When you and the other parent consider what factors are most important for your children to develop a healthy and productive relationship with each parent, you will be better able to create a workable custody schedule that benefits your children.
Younger school age children, usually in elementary school, benefit from a custody schedule that is predictable and provides frequent contact with both parents. Design your custody schedule after factoring in things like the parent's work schedules, each child's after school activities, age and temperament.
A workable custody schedule for younger school age children might include some of these features:
- Limited transitions between households so children have time to settle in
- Combining transitions with other activities, such as after school pickup by the other parent
- Designated home base for children that need to feel more grounded
- Consistent days with each parent so children can anticipate transition
- One to three overnight visits per week with the non-residential parent
- Alternate weekends with each parent, including one to three overnights
- Regularly scheduled phone calls to the absent parent, such as right after dinner
Custody schedules can become confusing, especially for children, so consider using Custody X Change software to create a color-coded calendar that is easy to follow and lets your children know what to expect each week.
Older school age children, such as those in junior high and high school, benefit from a custody schedule that allows them to participate in independent third party activities while still clearly outlining what happens each week. Older school age children need the freedom to explore outside activities and develop social relationships apart from family members.
Older school age children may also express their opinion about their custody schedule and what is and is not working for them. At this age, you can expect most pre-teens and teenagers to try negotiating with you and the other parent about what they want to do differently. Listen to their input and work to compromise on a solution that works for everyone.
Because of outside activities, school, friends or jobs, older school age children may want to maintain a main residence with frequent visits to the non-resident parent. Older school age children always need support and guidance from both parents, regardless of where they reside.
Custody schedules for older school age children will vary widely based on their individual needs, but some options might include:
- Alternating full 7-day weeks between parents
- Spending all weekdays with one parent and all weekends with the other
- Living in one parent's home full time, with mid-week and weekend visits to the non-residential parent's home
As parents of older school age children, you can make compromises about what is best for your children when you understand that time spend on things like more homework, extracurricular involvement, hobbies, after-school jobs, friends, or sports are usually more important to older children than time with family.
Separated parents can still manage their children's involvement in school when following a custody schedule. Even though you are divorced, you and the other parent can work together successfully to make your child's school experience as positive as possible.
A successful custody schedule can help you both give them the support they need to succeed in school while minimizing frustration and miscommunication. Focus your discussions on these aspects of your children's school needs:
Attendance. Both parents should make every effort to get their children to and from school on time. In the shared custody schedule, specify which parent is responsible for transportation on each school day.
Calendar. Most teachers are happy to email a homework schedule to interested parents, so request that you and the other parent receive detailed schedules for regular homework, upcoming projects and in-school events.
Homework. When children reside in two homes, homework can get lost in the shuffle of transitions and forgotten bags. In your schedule, outline which parent is responsible for homework each night. Don't forget to discuss what happens if your child leaves work at the other parent's home.
Conferences. Both of you should attend parent-teacher conferences, meetings with guidance counselors and any other school-related appointments that concern your children. Your children need both of you involved in their schooling, so make the effort to be present and involved as you are needed.
Custody X Change is a helpful software program that allows you to schedule even the most minor aspects of a shared custody schedule, making it easier for you and the other parent to stay on the same page regarding your children's schooling.
When you and the other parent note that the existing shared custody schedule is not working well for your school age children, you should work together to implement revisions that are better suited to the children's best interests.
Often, families outgrow an existing custody schedule, especially as the children age, their interests change or the parents go through work or relationship changes. Approach revisions to the current custody schedule with a problem-solving attitude. Often, the whole schedule doesn't need an overhaul--it may be just a few features.
Custody X Change software makes changing a shared custody schedule convenient and simple. When you and the other parent have finished making adjustments, you can upload the new schedules to your mobile devices for instant access. This can minimize miscommunications and frustrations as everyone is adjusting to the changes.