Shared Schedules For Joint Child Custody

Father teaching daughter how to ride a bike

Shared custody, more commonly known as joint custody, is the case where custody of the child is awarded to both co-parents. Both co-parents are seen as custodial parents of the child. Although both co-parents have equal custody over their child, their shared custody schedules do not necessarily need to be split 50/50, and in most cases they are not. Shared custody schedules are for co-parents who wish to divide their schedules so that they have relatively equal amounts of time with their child.

The many different types of shared custody schedules

There are many different types of shared custody schedules, each having their own benefits and drawbacks. It is important to choose one that will serve your family the best. The following are only a few of your options, for more information on the different types of shared custody schedules please consult with a family law professional.

  • The 2/2/3 schedule is very popular among the shared custody schedules. The name of the schedule describes the amount of time that is spent with each co-parent. The week begins with the child living with one co-parent for two days, and then switching between co-parents for the next two days, and finally switching back to the first co-parent for the remainder of the week. The co-parent who begins the week alternates every other week so that each co-parent spends an equal amount of time with their child. This type of shared custody schedule is easy to understand and easy to implement. A few drawbacks to this approach are the extremely frequent travelling, which can be even worse if you and your co-parent live far apart, it is difficult to form a steady routine, there is a lot of room for error since both co-parents are frequently counting on each other to make pick up and drop off times, and the constant disruption to your child’s schedule can be mentally unhealthy.
  • The 2/2/5/5 is similar to the previously mentioned shared custody schedule except it is a two week alternating schedule. The child will live with one co-parent at the beginning of the week for two days, and then switch to the other co-parent for two days, switch again to the first co-parent for five days, and finally switch to the other co-parent for five days. This type of schedule is also easy to understand and easy to implement. It also may be easier on you, your co-parent, and your child because of the longer five day stretches. This will cut down on transportation as well as provide all of you with a little bit more stability. Some drawbacks to this approach are similar to the previous because of the frequent traveling and disruption from the two-day stretches. Also, some children, mostly younger children, cannot handle the five-day separation.
  • Alternating week shared custody schedules are just as they are described in the name. Custody of the child alternates between you and your co-parent every other week. This can be a much better alternative if you and your co-parent do not live near one another. Each co-parent also gets to spend a significant amount of time with their child in long stretches. Some drawbacks to this approach are that some children, or even co-parent, may not be able to handle the longer separation time. Some co-parents are altering this type of schedule to include maybe one evening or overnight stay a week with the non-custodial co-parent for that week.

Other issues to be addressed in your shared custody schedules

Holidays, special events, extracurricular activities, vacations, and school breaks must also be addressed in your shared custody schedules. Because your child’s residence is constantly changing, these issues can sometimes create scheduling conflicts. This is something that you must discuss with your co-parent while creating the schedule. Should visitation time that is missed be made up or should each co-parent be expected to sacrifice this visitation time? These are tough questions to answer and should not be skipped.

The OurFamilyWizard website® has an array of tools to help co-parents manage and organize their shared parenting. These tools include the OurFamilyWizard Custody Calendar, which is fully customizable and can be created to implement any type of shared custody schedule. For more information on how the OurFamilyWizard website® can help you with your shared custody schedules please visit the Divorced Parenting page.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.