Putting together a child custody and visitation schedule is one of the most emotionally difficult aspects of the divorce process. As a loving parent, you want to spend as much time with your kids as possible, but it’s essential to respect the other parent’s rights and work with them to create a schedule that benefits everyone. In this blog, we’ll go over some commonly-used North Carolina custody schedules, one of which may work for your family.
Physical vs. Legal Custody
There are two types of child custody in North Carolina- physical and legal.
- Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with. If you have primary physical custody, your children likely lives with you most of the time. Many times the terms primary and secondary custody are used to show that one parent has the children more often than the other. Visitation is also a term that can be used when describing this part of custody; however, we can use other terms if this term is triggering for a parent. This physical custody is essential “the time you will be spending with your child” and the “day-to-day decisions” that you will be in charge of.
- Legal custody addresses a parent’s right to make decisions related to the child’s education, healthcare, medical treatment, and religious upbringing.
Unless one parent has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse, or some other significantly concerning behavior, courts prefer to order joint legal custody and a physical custody arrangement that gives both parents as much time with the kids as possible.
Sample Custodial Schedules
Below are some common examples of custody and visitation schedules.
- One week on, one week off: When parents alternate weeks, there is minimal transition between households, and each parent enjoys an extended and uninterrupted time with the kids. This arrangement works best if the children are older and both parents live in the school district.
- Equal custody schedule: The parents divide each week between them. Examples include two nights on, two nights off, or a similar arrangement. While the children transition between households more frequently, this arrangement can work well if both households are within a short traveling distance.
- Every other weekend: The noncustodial parent has the children every other weekend and, if possible, dinner with them at least once a week or every other week. Because this schedule calls for minimal transition, it may be a good option if the noncustodial parent lives a distance away or has a demanding work schedule.
- Creative Arrangements: Most families want to ensure that the schedule is BEST for their children’s specific needs. This may require a creative resolution based on the families’ schedules and the ages and needs of each child. We have created unique schedules with families that have left everyone feeling cared for and supported in their own way.
It is important to note that these are only examples. You and the other parent can work out an arrangement that accommodates everyone’s work schedules while giving the children a sense of stability and routine. You can also agree to change these written schedules, should you need to, if everyone is in agreement.
Also note, that we are currently dealing with schedules that are likely to change in the next 12-18 months due to COVID-19 and school closures, as well as remote working environments. Many parents have worked with us to create temporary schedules for these unique times, knowing that if/when things change, we will likely need to modify the schedule for the new environment we will all be facing.
Contact a North Carolina Child Custody Attorney Today
At Easterling Law, we understand that it can be challenging to select the right custody and visitation schedule for both children and parents. Our child custody attorneys will help you create a plan that addresses your children’s needs, your own availability, and the family traditions that you want to preserve. If you would like to speak to our team, let’s connect today.