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Does joint custody mean an even split?

When it comes to parenting after divorce, joint parenting may offer the best chance at avoiding the mental and emotional problems that often plague children of separated parents. While this requires a certain degree of civility and patience to have conflict-free interactions, it can also provide a secure environment where children know they are loved by both parents.

Michigan courts require parents to agree on a parenting plan before the divorce is finalized. While the parents may have joint custody, that does not necessarily mean the child's time will be split equally between them. This may be possible in some cases, but most families will need to determine an arrangement that provides the least disruption to the child's school and extracurricular activities. Some options for joint parenting schedules include:

  • Weekday parenting: Parents who live near to each other may be able to create a schedule that allows them to both see the child throughout the week. Certain days could be assigned to each parent or the child could swap houses every few days.
  • School break schedules: If the parents live farther apart, a schedule where the child spends school breaks with one parent may be more accommodating. The exact breaks would need to be determined ahead of time and could include spring, Christmas, summer and fall breaks.
  • Alternating weekends: Parents who live within few hours of each other may choose an alternating weekend schedule. One example of a common time frame for these visits would be from 6:00 p.m. Friday evening till 6:00 p.m. Sunday evening.
  • Holiday parenting: Michigan courts suggest that each parent is given certain holidays every other year. These holidays may alternate or each parent may get the child for all holidays in their year.

The plan that works will be determined by several factors, including how near the parents live to each other, whether or not the child will be able to attend the same school from each house, and what each parent's schedule is like. If parents cannot agree on a time frame that works, Michigan courts will determine the arrangement for them.

No matter what level of custody you and your ex have been granted, an attorney can help you navigate divorce and arrange a satisfactory plan that can accommodate everyone's schedules. By working together with a lawyer, you will be able to focus on the needs of your child and choose a plan that will be least stressful for you and your family as you begin on a new co-pare nting journey.

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