Creative Child Custody Schedules in Parenting Plans

In Tennessee, every divorce decree must include a parenting plan if there are minor children. Parenting plans need to address many issues, including decisions about physical and legal custody. The plans should:

  • Be drafted to minimize the need for modifications
  • Set forth the basic legal and physical custody requirements
  • Minimize the risk of “harmful parental conflict”
  • Provide for a way to resolve disputes

The parenting plan should address other parenting issues in according with the Tennessee Code.

In many parenting plans, the child stays with one parent during most of the year and with the other parent on alternating weekends and holidays, or during the summer vacation. But just because most parenting plans have this kind of set-up, doesn’t mean your needs to be the same.

Parenting plans that don’t follow the norm

Parents are not bound by any set formula, so long as they both agree – and the plan allows for both parents to spend time with their children. They can craft their own parenting plan depending on their work schedules, the child’s schooling and social needs, the proximity (or lack of proximity) of the parents to each other, and other factors. Sometimes, a creative parenting plan is best for both the child and the parents.

If parents live far away or in different states, then the “standard” parenting plan may not work for the practical reason that it costs too much money and time to pick up and transport the child. Instead, when parents live far apart, one parent may have custody of the child for the school term while the other parent may have custody during summer vacation.

The Chicago Tribune noted a few unique examples.

  • Instead of the child moving to another home, the parents themselves move around. In the Tribune’s example, the children stay in the marital home year round. The home has two bedrooms – one for each parent. Every two weeks the parent who was in the marital home moves to her spouse’s home while the other parent moves into his/her bedroom in the marital home. In other examples, the parents get their own apartments or homes, and just move in and out, based on when they have time with their children.
  • Two master bedrooms. In another case, the parents decided to stay in the home together with their children – but each parent had his/her own master bedroom. This arrangement does require that the parents get along fairly well, but not so well that the arrangement will sour if one parent is dating. Note, though, that this will only work if you’re already divorced, because Tennessee requires that you live apart when you’re in the process of separating.
  • Splitting the time evenly. Another couple has a parenting plan where the child stays with one parent for one full week and then the other parent for the next full week. This arrangement generally requires that both parents live in the same school district.
  • Different parenting plans for different children. This plan, while complicated, can make sense if there is a disparity in the ages of the children. If, for example, you have a breastfeeding baby and a child in pre-school, then you may need a different custody plan for each child, and different parenting plans to make them work.

At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we’ve grown with our family law clients. We understand that standard custody plans may not be what’s best for your children. Children should be able to spend time with both their parents as much as possible – with as little interruption to their daily routines as possible. To review your custody rights including creative parenting planes, call our family lawyers at 615-977-9370 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent spouses and parents in and near Franklin, Columbia and Brentwood Tennessee.