There are several standard templates for child custody agreements and visitation schedules. However, families can be unique in their structure, and individual children have different needs, so a one-size-fits-all solution may not be right for everyone. Some custody challenges require creativity.
It is important to avoid “all or nothing” thinking and realize that flexibility may be a key element in a successful arrangement. Life is unpredictable. Sometimes former spouses have to make schedule adjustments, which may call for the occasional calm and rational negotiation.
Joint custody, in general, means living with one parent and visiting the other. With shared custody, where time with the children is more evenly allocated, it helps if both parents live near the children’s schools. This makes it easier to manage school schedules, particularly when there are multiple children involved.
Outside the box
Some ideas are truly outside the box, for example, the “birdnesting” plan, wherein the children stay in the family home all the time, and the adults move in and out. This solution gives the children stability and allows them to remain close to their schools, neighbors and friends.
Tempting though it might be, it is unproductive for parents to make derogatory comments about each other. Putting children in the position of choosing one parent over the other is not in their best interest.
Even the most creative arrangement may need modification as the children get older. The court will likely approve a modification if both parents agree to the terms and it is in the children’s best interest. Regardless of the details, a successful custody plan requires the cooperation and flexibility of everyone involved, and it may take some creativity as well.