Yaffa Family Law Group
By: Doreen Yaffa

Time Sharing 101

Agreements, Child Custody

Experts agree that divorce is hardest on the children. Parenting can be challenging when you are married, and co-parenting with an ex-spouse can make it even more difficult. The solution is to draft and execute a solid time-sharing plan that makes your children feel safe, secure, and connected to both parents.

What is Time Sharing?

When couples get divorced and share custody, they need a legally binding plan to share time with the kids. The goal of timesharing is to impact the child’s life as little as possible and maintain consistent healthy relationships with each parent.

Sometimes called a Parenting Plan, a time-sharing solution outlines the child’s schedule. It considers each day of the week, holidays, and other special occasions and stipulates who the child will be with on those days and when they will be transferred to the other’s custody.

Considerations When Making a Time-Sharing Plan

Some things to consider when crafting your unique time-sharing plan are:

  • The age of your children. The younger the child, the more time is needed to form healthy, long-lasting bonds with both parents. Consistency is vital for younger kids, and flexibility may be necessary for older children.
  • Your relationship with your ex-spouse. If you and your ex get along, it will be easier to have additional transitions in your plan. If not, you need to make the plan as simple as possible with the fewest number of interactions. The plan may include a neutral location or involvement of an impartial party.
  • Flexibility. In life, things happen. If you are supposed to have the kids but have to take a sudden work trip, you and your ex-spouse need to have a plan in place to handle these situations. One way to handle it is through “right of first refusal” which means that the other spouse has the right to take the kids on a day when you cannot have them. Before you hire a babysitter or ask a family member, you must consider your ex-spouse.

Some Tips for a Successful Time Sharing Plan

The most important factor for success is both parties being fully committed to making it work. Some other tips for a successful time-sharing plan are:

  • Prioritize the children, always. With any decision, consider how your kids will be affected.
  • Never speak ill of the other parent. Kids absorb everything they hear, and if you regularly put down a parent they love and respect, it will only damage your relationship with them. Your kids will feel like they have to take sides, and that is not healthy for them.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Even though you don’t want to be married anymore, you can find ways to communicate effectively with your ex-partner for the good of the children.
  • Choose a schedule that you can live with. Don’t commit to a schedule that doesn’t work with your life, where you might constantly be late or find yourself rescheduling time with your children. 
  • Make decisions as a cohesive team. Involve the other parent in all decisions just as you would when you were married.