If you and your child’s other parent have decided to end your romantic relationship in favor of coparenting, you both have a lot to consider when it comes to structuring your family’s coparenting arrangements.
Not so long ago, it was very common for a child to reside with one parent for most of the time and with the other parent on every other weekend. This is an arrangement that still works well for some families. However, parents who live close to one another and who want to be as close to equally active in their children’s lives may prefer alternate arrangements.
In recent years, a number of parenting time formulas have emerged, as more and more parents seek to balance the need for homelife stability for their kids and the desire for both coparents to have their children around as much as possible. One popular schedule – especially for parents of small children – is the 4-3 custody schedule. If you’ve heard about this method, it is important to consider your child’s unique needs – and your family’s ability to manage this schedule – before committing to it.
How Does 4-3 Custody Scheduling Work?
Essentially, a 4-3 custody split allows a child to spend three days each week with one parent and three with the other. Many families prefer to start the split on Friday mornings and end them on Monday mornings, as this arrangement may work for certain work obligations and lifestyles. However, the split can take place whenever it would work for your family.
The Pros and Cons
As an experienced divorce lawyer – including those who practice at Felt Family Law & Mediation – can confirm, there is no single solution to the challenge of coparenting schedules that works for every family. You need to do what will serve your child’s best interests while not making the schedule so unmanageable that you and your coparent can’t sustain it without an unreasonable amount of stress.
The primary benefit of the 4-3 custody schedule is that it allows both parents to have their child residing in their home on a schedule that is close to a 50/50 split but is more stable and predictable than other near-half arrangements. Many kids find the “one week at one house, one week at the other house” breakdown to be too difficult to manage because just as they are getting into a rhythm in one location, they have to pack up and leave. Also, the stability of having a clear time every week when switches will be made can be good for smaller children especially, because they never have to go too long without one parent in predictable ways.
Yet, there are significant limitations to this approach, especially with older kids. Moving around this often can make older kids and teens feel like they can never, ever settle down. Also, if your kids have a lot of extracurricular activities that switch from season to season, the constant chaos of their home/school/activity schedule can be rough on their mental and physical health.