Child Custody Calendars and Schedules Explained
Judges often require parents to create a custody and visitation schedule (or the judges create one themselves).
Custody and visitation calendars, on the other hand, are usually optional but hugely helpful to anyone trying to understand a schedule.
Find more information on both tools below.
What's a custody and visitation schedule?
A custody and visitation schedule is a framework for how parents will share time with their child.
Your parenting plan should contain a written version of your schedule; be sure to use language that is specific, yet applicable to any year.
A schedule has multiple elements: the regular schedule, schedules specific to part of the year (such as summer break), holidays that repeat annually, and one-time events.
In the pyramid to the left, each element takes precedence over the elements beneath it.
For example, if a holiday assigned to Mom falls in the middle of Dad's regular custody time, the child will spend the holiday with Mom, then return to Dad. The holiday schedule, which is higher on the pyramid, takes precedence until the holiday ends.
If one year the parents agree Dad can take the child to a movie on that holiday assigned to Mom, they can create a one-time event for the movie outing. The event will take priority over all other schedules because one-time events are at the top of the schedule pyramid.
When do I need a custody and visitation schedule?
You almost always have to submit a schedule to the court if you settle your custody case. That means you need to bring proposed schedules when you negotiate with the other parent.
You might also present a proposed custody and visitation schedule to the judge if you can't agree with the other parent.
Ultimately, your court orders will include a written schedule; it may be the one you presented to the court or one the judge selected. Except when you and the other parent agree to stray from the schedule, failure to follow it puts you at risk of being fined, charged with contempt of court, and more.
What's a custody and visitation calendar?
A custody and visitation calendar is a visual representation of your schedule. A Custody X Change calendar converts your schedule's legal wording into color-coded time blocks, so you can see at a glance when each parent will have the child.
You can make multiple calendars in the Custody X Change app. You might need only one, or you might use one per child if your children follow different custody schedules.
The advantages of a calendar include:
You instantly see who should have the child
Making sense of custody schedules on your own can be exasperating, thanks to the many overlapping layers: regular schedules, seasonal schedules, holidays and one-time events.
A Custody X Change calendar does the hard work for you by interpreting which layer takes precedence over the others. Just log in and you see which parent has a legal right to spend time with the child at any given moment. Or set up notifications to alert you when an exchange is upcoming.
You can make quick changes
Asking the court to make changes to your custody schedule is a lengthy process, but editing your Custody X Change calendar is instantaneous. It's an easy way to keep track of schedule modifications you and the other parent agree on, whether they're one-time events or recurring changes.
You can include noncustody events
In the app's activities center, insert things like appointments and sports practices to see them alongside your custody transfers. Now there's no need to have separate calendars for your custody schedule and your child's social life. You can even input your work or personal events to maintain everything in one place.
You can share it easily
You have several options for sharing your calendar.
If you want to share it within the app — perhaps with the other parent, your lawyer or your child — set up linked Custody X Change accounts. Anyone with a linked account can see changes you make in real time.
Other options for sharing include syncing with any major calendaring app, exporting your data and printing.
When do I need a custody and visitation calendar?
While written custody schedules are usually required by courts, a visual custody calendar is optional. However, a calendar can simplify the legal process and facilitate successful co-parenting.
You can use a calendar to:
Visualize a written schedule
If you have a written schedule — say, one proposed by the other parent or ordered by the court — plug it into a Custody X Change calendar to make sense of it at a glance.
Draft your schedule's language
If you still need a written schedule — one that uses legal terminology applicable to any year and leaves no room for interpretation — the Custody X Change app can write it for you. Start by selecting days and times on your calendar, then have the app insert a verbal description of your choices into your parenting plan.
Help explain your schedule to others
A custody calendar can help judges, clerks, lawyers, your co-parent and others comprehend your written schedule quickly. Attaching a professional-looking calendar to your schedule makes their lives easier, plus helps demonstrate your competence as a parent.
Calculate your parenting time
At the top of your Custody X Change calendar is a running total of your parenting timeshare. This percentage reflects how much time each parent spends with the child.
In your account settings, you can set the calendar to show annual and monthly parenting time calculations, just annual or none at all.
In many states, parenting time affects your child support payment, so an accurate calculation is paramount. The app can also produce a parenting timeshare report with graphs for any time period, based on data pulled from your calendar.
Stay organized once orders take effect
When your schedule takes effect, a custody calendar becomes a lifeline by showing you when it's time to transfer the kids back and forth. You can even set notifications to alert you before an exchange or an activity. Now, the time you would have spent interpreting your custody schedule can be spent with your family instead.
What to put in your custody calendar and schedule
Your calendar and schedule should explain:
- If/how parents will split time with the child on regular weekdays and weekends
- If/how parents will split time with the child during school breaks
- If/how parents will split time with the child on holidays and special occasions
- If/when each parent can take the child on vacation
When you're ready to create your calendar and schedule
Before you start work on a calendar, you need to make decisions about your schedule.
Consider your family's unique circumstances and check whether your state has a preferred schedule. You can also look at common schedules for ideas, as well as contact your court to learn about local rules.
When you've decided how to share time, creating a calendar and schedule takes just minutes with Custody X Change. The selections you make appear on your calendar and in your parenting plan.
Your first step is to create your regular, repeating schedule.