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Why alternating weeks of custody can be harmful for some kids

If you and your spouse are going to be splitting custody of your children 50/50 after the divorce, you're probably looking at various schedules that allow you each to have the children an equal amount of time. Alternating weeks is one way to go, and it has its advantages. It cuts down on the number of exchanges you have to make, for example. If you are going to live close to one another and your children's schools, you may be considering it.

However, this type of schedule may not be a good idea if you have young children. Children and even preteens can experience separation anxiety or even develop a more serious anxiety disorder if they're away from one parent for a whole week. Even if you arrange for the parent without custody for the week to have dinner with the kids a couple of times, that may not be enough.

A couple of other variations on the 50/50 schedule include the 2-2-3 schedule and the 3-4-4-3 schedule. These both ensure that the kids aren't away from either parent for more than a few days and provide both parents equal time.

A 60/40 split can still give you equal time

Some parents choose a schedule that's considered a 60/40 split. One parent gets the kids during the bulk of the week (Monday through Thursday) while the other parent gets them Friday through Sunday. While the first parent technically has the kids for more days, the parent who gets them over the long weekend has more time to spend with them (particularly if they work and the kids are in school).

Of course, you can always alternate so that the same parent doesn't always have either three or four days. However, if one parent has a job that makes it more difficult to tend to the kids before and after school and the other doesn't, having the same schedule every week can be the best way to go.

These are just some of the options you have if you and your co-parent want to have roughly the same amount of time with your kids. Which parenting schedule you choose will depend on your kids' needs, your work schedules and how amicably you're able to deal with each other during exchanges. Your family law attorney can provide additional guidance based on your own unique circumstances.

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