Coming to terms with the fact that you (and same for your spouse) will no longer have access to your children 100% of the time is a difficult reality to accept. Now imagine how your children feel – not having the ability to see each of their parents all of the time. There are many factors to consider when determining the best parenting time schedule for your children. The Texas Family Code terms this schedule a “Possession and Access Schedule.” But are children really possessions to be accessed by their parents? When it comes to divorce, judges’ options are limited by the Texas Family Code. So for divorcing couples headed to court, their families are are most likely to end up with what is known as a Standard Possession Order or what is commonly referred to as the “Expanded” Standard Possession Order. Many people are somewhat familiar with these schedules – one parent has the children on first, third, and fifth weekends with thirty days during the summer (forty-two days with the “expanded” schedule) and alternating holidays.
The Collaborative Divorce process allows parents far more flexibility in determining a schedule that best fits for their specific family’s needs. Below are common schedules parents agree to in the Collaborative Law process. Keep in mind that these are not exclusive options; one of the most important benefits the Collaborative Divorce process offers is the ability for families to be creative when deciding what kind of schedule works best for them.
Week On/Week Off
This scheduling option is fairly self-explanatory – alternating weeks between each parent’s house. But a week on/week off schedule doesn’t have to be that cut and dry. Accommodations can be made where each parent has a dinner night with the children during the other parent’s week. Another option is to use the week on/week off schedule during the summer and a different schedule during the school year (or vice versa).
This parenting time option can sound complicated, but it’s actually pretty easy to follow and the children never go more than 5 days without seeing either parent. Here’s how it works: one parent has Mondays and Tuesdays each week, the other parent has Wednesdays and Thursdays each week, and weekends (Friday through Sunday) are alternated. Some clients choose an alternating weekend schedule; others choose a designated weekend schedule, such as 1st and 3rd weekends for one parent and 2nd and 4th weekends for the other parent and then alternating the 5th weekend.
This option is the least chosen by families in divorce, most likely because of the high number of transitions and due to the difficulty it creates for advanced planning. When you look at a calendar, it is hard to know very far out in advance which weeks and weekends each parent has. However, this schedule can work well for families with very young children as they are never away from either parent for more than 3 days. This option is a schedule that alternates on a two-week basis. During week 1, parent A has Monday/Tuesday, parent B has Wednesday/Thursday, and parent A has Friday through Sunday. Then during week 2, parent B has Monday/Tuesday, parent A has Wednesday/Thursday, and parent B has Friday through Sunday. As you can imagine, this option requires a lot of tracking on the calendar.
What is the takeaway? Every family is different. And you don’t have to force your unique family into a cookie cutter schedule if it doesn’t work for you. Choosing a Collaborative Divorce process allows you and your spouse to decide which type of schedule will be best for your children.