Make a Repeating Custody Schedule: Common Patterns

Before you build a schedule, make sure you've understood the basics of custody calendars and schedules and considered the 13 factors that determine the right schedule for your family.

In the four steps below, the app walks you through the process of creating a schedule. If you'd rather work more independently by clicking and dragging in the calendar, skip down to the alternative option.

Step 1: Choose dates and a title

Click on the "calendar" tab.

Then select "new schedule" to the left of your calendar (or beneath your calendar if you're on a phone).

On the next screen, select when this schedule should take effect (either by typing in the date and time boxes or by clicking in the calendar). You might choose today, the first day of next month, etc. Keep in mind if you want to start on a particular day of the week.

If you're creating a schedule that will override your regular schedule for an extended period, check the "summer break" box. This works not only for a summer schedule but also when your schedule needs to change temporarily for something like a parent's seasonal job.

Checking the box pulls up additional options. Beyond entering an end date for the first year, you can use choose start and end dates for future years using the radio buttons. Then select the years in which you want the schedule to be active ("starting in" and "through"). If this schedule will not apply to future years, choose the same year in both the "starting in" and "through" boxes.

Lastly, you have the option to give your schedule a title. You might choose something like "Proposal 1" or "Temporary schedule." If you don't enter a title, the app applies one automatically: "Schedule" and then a number.

When you're ready to move on, hit "next."

Step 2: Select a template

Choose the template that's closest to the schedule you had in mind. You'll be able to customize it by adding visits, changing dates and more.

The templates address the most-common parenting schedules. Each name represents a repeating pattern of days (e.g., 2-2-5-5). Next to that, you'll see the percentage of custody time that pattern gives each parent (e.g., 50/50, meaning each parent has the child 50 percent of the time).

When you choose a template, the pattern appears in the calendar to help you visualize its possibilities.

At the bottom of the template list, you'll see the option "other (e.g. every 3rd week or 5th day)." If none of the templates listed are similar to what you want to create, select this option and head to our article on creating a schedule with an uncommon pattern.

Once you've selected a template, hit "customize."

Step 3: Customize your schedule

In this step, you can customize the schedule template you just selected. Your changes will appear in the calendar. (Note: Wait until you're all done customizing to click "save" — it will close the customization box.)

Your options depend on your template. For example, in the alternating weeks template, you can swap parents' weeks and change the exchange day.

In the every weekend and alternating weekend templates, you can set the weekend parent and define when their weekend visits will start and end.

For nearly every template, you'll see the "add or extend a visit" button.

Click it to add a repeating visit. (To add a one-time visit or a holiday visit, wait until Step 4.) Choose the parent this visit will belong to, or choose "3rd party" when a child won't be with either parent. Next, enter when the visit should start and end, and set when it will repeat: how often and on which days of the week.

Extending a repeating visit that you see on your calendar works the same way. Either create a visit that abuts the too-short visit, or create a longer visit on top of the short one. For example, to give Dad an extra couple hours with the kids every other Sunday morning, he could create a two-hour visit right before his original visit's start time (9 a.m.).

Step 4: Edit and share your schedule

Once you save, you'll return to the main schedules page.

From here, you can add holiday visits and one-time schedule changes. You can also edit your schedule or share and print your calendar.

If you know that your schedule will change in the future — perhaps when your child reaches a certain age or during summer break — you can repeat the steps above to make additional schedules and choose the date when each will take effect.

Alternative: Work independently in the calendar

If you don't want the app to walk you through each step of creating a schedule, you can work directly in the calendar.

Click roughly where you want your schedule to begin. (It must be a blank space, otherwise you'll be editing the existing schedule. To make a new schedule when you already have one, you can create a new calendar, delete the existing schedule, or follow the four steps above.)

The calendar will create a short visit where you clicked.

To adjust the start and end times, either click and drag in the calendar or use the options boxes to the left of your calendar (or underneath your calendar if you're on a phone).

In the boxes, you can assign the visit to a parent or a third party (e.g., day care or a nanny). You can also set the visit to repeat.

If your visit repeats

The app will automatically give the time between the repeat visits to the other parent. It will also give your schedule a title (e.g., Schedule 1).

When you click "save," you'll see your schedule on the calendar and listed under the "schedules" tab.

You can keep adding or adjusting visits the same way you just did. Or you can edit your schedule by clicking the "edit" button; here you can rename it, delete it, choose a new pattern, change the start or end date, etc.

If you know that your schedule will change in the future — perhaps when your child reaches a certain age or during summer break — you can use the four steps above to make additional schedules and choose the date when each will take effect.

If your visit does not repeat

You'll have the option of giving it a title since this visit is presumably for a unique reason.

When you click "save," you'll see your visit on the calendar and listed under the "changes" tab. To edit the visit, click on it in either place.

You can continue to add one-time visits following the process you just did or by clicking "new change." You can add a repeating schedule by following the steps farther up in this article.

Custody X Change is software that creates personalized custody calendars and schedules.

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