By Robert M. Going, Jr., Attorney
Divorce is never easy, especially when children are involved. One way to make the process less stressful for the kids is to figure out the best custody arrangement for all parties. A well-written agreement reduces emotional tension and provides a solid foundation for the future.
However, negotiating the terms of a custody agreement is almost as stressful as the divorce itself. These agreements clarify which parent has primary legal and physical custody and how time with the children will be balanced. That’s why many parents use a qualified lawyer to mediate the negotiations. The attorney ensures that the agreement is well-written and legally binding.
Pennsylvania child custody laws favor plans that are in the child’s best interests. Most of the time, the courts prefer an agreement that allows the child to maintain a relationship with both parents. Judges rarely award sole custody to one parent unless the other parent is deemed unfit or dangerous to the child.
Deciding a Custody Agreement
There are many different types of custody agreements. When developing the agreement, it’s important to consider the child’s needs first. This may include factors such as the child’s age, their relationship with each parent, and each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical, educational, social, and emotional needs.
The custody agreement should be flexible and allow for changes in the future as the needs of the child and the parents change. In addition, it should contribute to creating a stable and supportive environment for the child. With the help of a qualified Lancaster family law attorney, it’s easier to create a fair agreement that works toward the child’s best interests.
Equal Custody Arrangements
There are many situations that make an equal-time custody arrangement suitable. However, distance can make a 50/50 agreement impractical. An equal-time custody arrangement works best when the parents live close to each other, such as within the same school district. This arrangement can also work for parents living far apart, but it takes a lot of flexibility and coordination.
An Alternating Weeks Custody Schedule allows the child to spend one week at a time with each parent. Similarly, the Two Weeks Each Schedule has the child staying with each parent for two weeks at a time. These schedules split time evenly between parents, but if a child is younger, these arrangements may cause separation anxiety.
60/40 Custody Schedule
In some cases, 50/50 time splits are not practical or even possible. In these instances, a 60/40 Custody Schedule may be more suitable. This arrangement still allows the child to spend a significant amount of time with each parent but allows one parent a bit more time. It also has the benefit of fewer meetings for handing over the child.
The 18-12 and 70/30 or 80/20 Custody Arrangements
The 18-12 and 70/30/80/20 Custody Schedules reduce the number of exchanges. In the 18-12 Schedule, one parent has the child for 18 or 19 days of the month, while the other parent has the child for the remaining 12 or 13 days.
This arrangement can be adjusted to fit the child’s and parent’s needs. It provides a consistent routine with just one monthly handover, although short months like February may require some adjustments.
The 70/30 or 80/20 arrangements may be more suitable in cases where the child needs a regular “home base” or when school schedules and distance make a more evenly divided custody arrangement impossible.
These custody schedules may also benefit parents with busy work schedules, frequent travel, or who live further away from each other.
Every Weekend Schedule
In this arrangement, the child spends their weekdays with one parent and their weekends with the other. It is a popular choice for parents who live further away from their child’s school district. However, it can lead to one parent missing out on weekdays and school routines while the other misses out on weekend activities.
5-2 Custody Arrangement
The 5-2 Custody Schedule allows parents to choose any 2 days of the week for custody. It provides more flexibility and allows both parents to be involved in the child’s activities.
The Every Third/Fourth Week Custody
This custody arrangement is a good fit for parents who want to reduce the number of child handovers each month. In this agreement, the child spends two to three weeks with one parent and then a week with the other. There are fewer exchanges and longer periods with each parent. A potential downside is that it can cause separation anxiety due to the extended absence from one parent.
Alternating Weekends Child Custody Schedule
The Alternating Weekends Schedule is a great fit for parents looking for a custody schedule that allows for two to three monthly exchanges. This schedule is similar to the Every Weekend Schedule but involves switching parents every other weekend.
Another option to consider is the Summers Only Schedule, where one parent has custody of the child during the summer break, and the other parent takes care of the child for the rest of the year. A Lancaster custody lawyer can help adjust this schedule to allow the child to visit the “summer parent” on certain holidays or other occasions throughout the year.
Get a Fair Custody Arrangement for Your Child
Need a custody agreement? A Lancaster County family attorney can help determine the best arrangement for your child and family. For more than sixty years, the Law Offices of Going and Plank have helped Lancaster County families. We work to provide a low-stress environment to help families find the best legal solutions. Contact us today to find out more.
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