When planning the amount of time and the number of consecutive overnights the child will spend with each parent, parents should consider:
- The amount of childcare each of the parents provided prior to separation.
- The child’s temperament.
- The level of conflict between parents.
- Familiarity with the other parent’s home.
If one parent was minimally involved in the child’s daily routine, a few days each week including a full weekend day will allow the relationship and caregiving skills to develop. As the child becomes more comfortable moving between two homes, additional time and one or two overnights may be added.
If both parents are working outside the home at the time of separation and the child is in day care, parents might consider splitting each weekend so the child has one full stay-at-home day and overnight with each parent every week, as well as some weekday contact. While this may not be the best solution for the parents, it is helpful to many young children in the early stages of separation.
If one parent is primarily at home with the child, the parenting plan may offer the other parent more weekend time, in addition to some weekday contact.
Some parents find that an every-other-weekend schedule with midweek contact works well. As the child moves through this developmental stage, weekends may be extended to include either Friday or Sunday night or both.
When both parents have been actively involved in the child’s daily routine, depending on the child’s temperament and adjustment, ease of transitions and the effectiveness of parental communication, reasonably equal time may be considered.