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Sometimes 50/50 Custody Isn’t Practical. Here’s a List of Common Alternatives.

Lancaster-County-Family-LawBy Robert M. Going, Jr., Attorney

When it comes time to think about child custody, things can get complicated quickly. While many parents believe that 50/50 custody agreements are ideal, that’s not necessarily the case.

An evenly split agreement may be possible if parents live near one another or in the same school district. These kinds of arrangements give a child equal time with each parent, which is ideal for some families. But what happens when parents live further apart? For example, what happens if one parent has a demanding job or must travel for work?

All kinds of factors make some parents consider alternatives. For example, some children want to stay longer with the parent who lives close to school to be on school teams or participate in extracurricular activities. In another example, very young children may get stressed if they spend too much time away from a caregiver or if the handoffs are too frequent.

Part of my duties as a custody attorney is suggesting agreements that are in the child’s best interests and suit each family’s unique circumstances.

 Not All 50/50 Custody Agreements are Alike

Even if spending equal time with each parent is possible, decisions must be made. Parents must decide how and when to schedule blocks of time in ways that provide equal custody over days, weeks, or even months.


Some parents choose to split time within the week, ensuring children never spend too many days apart from either parent. Here are some examples.

  • The 2-2 Schedule switches custody every two days, keeping absences short.
  • Some parents use a 2-2-3 Schedule, in which a child spends two days of the week with one parent, then two days with the other, and returns to the first parent for the last three days. The schedule switches the following week.
  • In the 2-2-5-5 Schedule, a child lives with one parent for two days, spends two days with the other parent, and then switches to spending five days with one parent and the next five days with the other.
  • The 3-4-4-3 Custody Schedule changes each week. The child is with the first parent for three days and the second for four days. The following week the schedule flips, and the first parent has four days with the child, while the second parent gets three days.

When frequent handoffs are a problem, caregivers can look at schedules that allow a child to spend more extended periods with each parent.

  • The Alternating Weeks Schedule allows the first parent to have a week of custody before handing it off to the second parent for the next week.
  • The Two Weeks EachSchedule extends the custody duration to two weeks before a hand hand-off

60/40 Agreements Work for Many Pennsylvania Families

By altering the percentage each parent spends with the child, it’s possible to get more creative with the way time is split. This may be a way to accommodate the schedules of school-aged children, working parents, or parents who do not live close to one another.

  • The Every Extended Weekend Schedule allows one parent to spend Monday afternoon through Friday morning with the child. The second parent then takes them for the extended weekend.
  • As the name implies, the 4-3 Custody Schedule allows the child to reside with one parent for four days and then spend three days with the other, but not necessarily the weekend.

70/30 Custody Makes Room for Busy Schedules

Frequent handoffs are not possible or even desirable for many families. In addition, demanding school and work schedules may make it difficult for the child to spend equal time with each parent. 70/30 agreements are sometimes a way to work around these kinds of conflicts.


  • The Every Weekend Schedule allows a child to live with one parent on weekdays and spend weekends with the other. However, to allow more flexibility on the weekends for kids’ social events, this agreement is often modified to give a parent two out of every three weekends.
  • The 5-2 Custody Schedule allows the family to choose which five days the child resides with the first parent and which two are spent with the second. For example, a parent could have the child Sunday through Thursday and transfer for Friday and Saturday.
  • The Every Third Day Schedule splits up absences, ensuring a child never endures too much time away from either parent. In this situation, a parent assumes custody for two days and hands off to the second parent on the third day.
  • The Every Third Week Custody Schedulecreates more extended periods with each parent. The first parent takes custody for two weeks, and the second parent keeps the child for the third week.

80/20 Custody for Lancaster County Families

These arrangements are suitable for families looking for longer custody periods or must work around longer school or work commitments.

  • An Alternating Weekends Schedule enables the child to establish residence with one parent and visit the other every other weekend.
  • The First, Third, and Fifth Weekends Schedulealso creates primary residence with one parent, while the child visits the second parent on the first, third, and fifth weekends of the month. The Second, Fourth, and Fifth Weekends Custody Schedule is a variation on this agreement.
  • The Every Third Weekend Schedule is an option for parents who live far apart or families with challenging school and work commitments.

School Vacation Custody Alternatives

Many custody arrangements are created around school commitments. However, when schools are in recess, such as Christmas break or summer vacation, some parents shift to alternate schedules.

When parents live far apart, especially in different states, one parent may request custody over the break. They may also choose to shift to a different custody plan or timing to take advantage of the child’s more flexible schedule.

We Can Help With Custody Matters

Creating schedules that are in the best interest of the child can be challenging, especially when parents are newly separated or divorced. As a Lancaster family law attorney with decades of experience, I can help. Contact the Law Offices of Going and Plank in downtown Lancaster for help with your custody needs.


The Law Offices of Going and Plank is proud to participate in the MetLife Plans.

Want to find out more about child custody? Check out these articles from Going and Plank.

Summer Custody Arrangements can be Challenging. We Share Tips for Fair Agreements.

Long Distance Custody Requires Special Considerations

How to Prepare for a Fair Custody Agreement in Pennsylvania

Child Custody Proceedings can be Stressful, Especially if You Make one of These 7 Mistakes.

We Reveal Five Common Custody Mistakes and How Parents in Lancaster County can Avoid Them

Child Custody: Which Arrangement is Right for You?



Rephrase to “in between handoffs.”

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