Parenting is tricky enough when you are in a solid relationship, but divorce makes it even more difficult. Succeeding as a father relies on your ability to make the most of your time with your children. Designing the right custody schedule will help you maximize your time together with minimal disruptions to your life, the child’s activities and the mother’s rights. A well-designed custody plan takes the needs of everyone into consideration. Custody changes usually require a major life change like a move or a new job. Create a schedule that works for you the first time to avoid months of visits when you are too tired to enjoy them.
Many men want to set up a 50/50 custody program where they alternate weeks or even months, but this is only feasible if you still live in the same town as the other parent. Your child can’t constantly fly across the country and enroll at two different schools just to make a custody plan work. Look at how much time you actually have to spend with your child and how much time your child has as well. Try logging everything you do for a week to determine when you have the most free-time for visitation. Older children are often engaged in a variety of after-school sports or activities. They will also want to spend time with their friends. If your child is old enough, try asking them about their schedule so you can create a custody plan that fits their needs.
Some fathers create intricate custody plans that give them the most time with their children throughout the year, but these plans often include random day visits or weeks without contact. Consistency is very important in a child’s life. Set a schedule where you can spend time with your kids every weekend, every Tuesday or the last week of every month. The child can mentally and physically prepare for visiting you instead of feeling confused about when you will spend time together again.
Try Short Visits
An evening together at the park or watching a movie can have a big impact on your relationship with your children. Just a few hours of contact is enough to show that you love and care for them. Try adding a short evening or afternoon visit into the schedule if you need to use a plan that requires you to go without contact for more than a week. If you can take the child to school, try a mid-week overnight visit to help them with their homework.
Long Distance Schedules
Creating a great custody schedule is complicated when you live in a different town or state than the mother of the children. In these cases, most parents choose to have the child live the majority of the year with one parent and spend their summer vacation with the other. If you would like a more even split of the time, look into online or distance learning programs. Many schools offer them through accredited sources. This could give you a chance to have true 50/50 custody without impacting your child’s education.
Stay On Top Of The Schedule
Sticking to the custody schedule is far more important than exactly which days your visitation falls on. Arriving late or missing a visit has a big impact on your child. When your time together is limited every minute counts. Try loading your custody schedule into your Blackberry or your favorite email program for easy reminders. This is especially important if you tend to get distracted by a heavy workload or find it difficult to make plans without referring to a calender. The mother isn’t obliged to let you visit on another day if you forget your scheduled meeting, so you may end up going a week or more without contact if you can’t stick to the agreement.