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Crafting a Workable Joint Custody Schedule in Georgia

Georgia family courts more and more are approving joint physical custody arrangements for divorcing couples. Joint custody usually means a 50/50 arrangement, in which child spends equal time in each parent’s home. While there are multiple factors considered in a custody decision, a court will generally go along with a 50/50 schedule if it is found to be in the child’s best interests. The underlying public policy is that children generally benefit from having a strong, sustained relationship with both parents.

However, there are practical and logistical concerns to joint physical custody. A feasible arrangement must take into account the parents’ work schedules, the geographical proximity of their two homes and the children’s ages and ability to adapt. 

The following are some common options for dividing children’s time equally between parents, along with their relative benefits and drawbacks of each:

  • Alternating week schedule — This is the simplest arrangement. The kids spend a full week with each parent, allowing them to settle into routines and maintain connections with friends and activities in both homes. The schedule can be suitable for older children who adapt well to change and appreciate longer stretches of uninterrupted time. However, those long stretches away from the other parent can be tough on younger children. 
  • 2-2-5-5 schedule — The kids spend two weekdays with each parent followed by a long weekend. This means shorter stretches away from each parent, potentially which can easing transitions for younger children. The weekend blocks with each parent can facilitate family outings and activities. However, the frequent switch-ups can be logistically demanding, especially when they involve midweek school pickups and drop-offs.
  • 2-2-3 schedule — The kids spend two weekdays with one parent, followed by two weekdays and a weekend with the other. This arrangement combines longer and shorter stretches with each parent and reduces weekday transitions. It also allows for dedicated weekend time with each parent. However, the longer midweek time away from one parent might be challenging for younger children who feel detached.
  • 3-3-4-4 schedule — This arrangement gives kids two three-day stints with each parent followed by four-day stints with each. It requires fewer transitions than a 2-2-3 schedule and allows extended visits with each parent. However, the schedule might disrupt school and extracurricular activities. Also, the time spent with each parent will overlap irregularly with weekends, unless there is an agreement for splitting or sharing weekend time.

None of these schedules need to be set in stone. The co-parents can tweak the schedule to create a customized plan that best suits their situation and their children’s needs and preferences. Any child custody arrangement that is adopted requires communication and flexibility to be successful, especially since the schedule will necessarily need modification as the children get older.

At the Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan, I serve clients throughout Georgia in family law matters, including child custody and visitation. Call 470-344-8550 or contact me online to schedule a consultation.