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How to Navigate Joint Custody Schedules

Father and son

Whether you are going through a divorce or a separation, it’s important that the children in your life have the stability they need to move forward as well. Having a child custody agreement in place complete with a joint custody schedule can help your children obtain a sense of stability again.

There is a lot to consider when deciding how children will spend their time between both parents. These agreements can be established by the parents, but are most often established by the court. For help in either situation, contact an experienced Chicago family law attorney to guide you and advocate for you and your kids.

Joint Physical Custody

These types of custody arrangements give parents shared custody of their child, and both parents spend a significant and frequent amount of time with their child. Joint physical custody is often divided 50/50 between parents. However, joint physical custody can also follow a 60/40 schedule where one parent has a child 60% of the time while the other parent has a child 40% of the time.

Sole Physical Custody

This type of child custody arrangement typically consists of the child living with one parent on a permanent basis and then visiting the other parent. Parents who follow this custody agreement will typically operate on an 80/20 schedule. The parent with whom the child lives will have the child 80% of the time, while the other parent will have the child 20% of the time.

Establishing a Primary Residence

For joint physical custody agreements, it is beneficial to establish a primary residence for your child, even if the child spends their time equally with both parents. The primary residence of a child is determined by what best meets the needs of the child and is often with the parent who spends the most time with the child.

Creating a Joint Custody Schedule

When creating a schedule for parents who have child custody arrangements, there are a variety of schedules they can create to follow. Both parents must agree to the schedule. If one parent does not agree, then the courts may have the final say in the arrangement that is used. The following are some of the more common joint custody schedules parents can consider when creating a schedule that works for their circumstances.

Alternating Weeks

Alternating weeks are a straightforward and simplified way for parents who have joint custody of their child. With alternating weeks, the child will split their time evenly between parents. One week they will be with one parent, and then the next week they will stay with the other. Parents can also agree to have the child stay with one parent for two weeks and then spend the next two weeks with the other parent.

Alternating Weeks with Midweek Visits

You can modify the alternating weeks to include a mid-week visit with the other parent. This type of schedule would allow the child to visit the parent they are not staying with for that week. In this type of schedule, both parents will be allowed a midweek visit in order to maintain that 50/50 time with their child.

Rotational Custody Schedule

In certain situations, a rotating schedule may be the best method to use. Rotating schedules are common because they offer a bit more flexibility than alternating weeks. However, this type of schedule might require a little more time for a child to adjust to because of the reality that the dates rotate and are not as consistent.

2-2-5-5 Custody Schedule
With this type of schedule, a child will stay with Parent A for two days and then spend the next two days with Parent B. Then, the child will switch back to Parent A and spend five days with them before switching again to spend the next five days with Parent B. This rotation restarts every two weeks and maintains an equal 50/50 split between both parents.

3-4-4-3 Custody Schedule
With this type of schedule, a child will spend the first three days with Parent A and then the next four days with Parent B. Then the child will go back to Parent A for four days after which they will switch again to Parent B for three days. This rotation restarts every two weeks and also provides parents equal time with their children.

2-2-3 Custody Schedule
With this type of schedule, a child will stay with Parent A for two days, then will switch over to Parent B for two days, then will switch back to Parent A for three days. This schedule works for parents who are splitting their time 50/50 with their child because when the week is over, they can reverse the order of the rotation so that Parent B starts off the new week in order to have an equal amount of time with their child.

This schedule can also work for parents who spilt their time by 60/40. The parent who gets 60% of the time with their child will always be the one to start the rotation.

Summer Break Schedule

It’s important to establish a summer break schedule for a joint custody agreement. This schedule can be the same as the schedule the child follows during the school year or it can be different. Often, there will be days or weeks where the child can spend a longer period of time with one parent before switching back to the other parent.


When creating a joint custody agreement, it’s also important to stipulate which holidays or special dates the child will spend with each parent. These dates include:

  • Federal and state holidays including special occasions such as Father’s Day and Mother’s Day
  • School holidays and breaks
  • Birthdays
  • Religious holidays
  • Any other special occasions that are important to your child

Navigating a child custody agreement can be a difficult process, especially if you have had a difficult separation from your partner. Having an experienced attorney by your side can help you develop a plan that works for you and your child. Contact us today to get in touch with one of our experienced attorneys who will help you explore your options and create a plan that works best for your child.

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