Any way you slice it, the most likely scenario for a “creative” timesharing arrangement, will develop from two parents cooperating with one another. No party should rely on judicial creativity as such creativity is likely to frustrate both parents. Judges often express their bewilderment that a stranger should make a decision about the children at issue and urge the parties to think again about how to make an arrangement work.
One of the most creative arrangements for timesharing is a concept called “nesting,” which is typically short-term. Nesting involves the children staying in the same home while the parents alternate when they are staying overnight. This may require two additional places for the parents to stay besides the home, which serves as the base for the children. This also may be used to accommodate a set of parents where one of the parents does a great deal of travel. It can also assist a couple during the course of litigation when one or both of the parents has an easy short term alternative with a friend or family member.
Another creative arrangement is a four day on/four day off schedule. While a more common 50/50 timesharing arrangement is week on and week off, a 4/4 schedule might be used when the child is a toddler and there is strong communication between the parents. The object is that both parties respect that each need time with the child.
Creativity is often needed when dealing with a baby or infant as the Mom typically wants 100% of the time and the Dad is agreeable to the Mom having very significant time early on with gradual changes in timesharing as the child gets older. If there is enough trust and interest, an infant may be with Mom for 100% of the overnights while Dad sees the child 3-5 times a week and supports the Mother’s commitment to breast-feeding the child, for instance. That schedule might then be increased to one to two nights a week until the child is 3 and eventually to 50/50 timesharing when the child starts first grade.
What do you do when you have a special needs child who has relied primarily on the care of one parent directly while relying primarily on the other parent for financial support? Can that child bear a 50/50 timesharing schedule without any gradual changes in timesharing? Probably not. There are a variety of timesharing schedules that might be creatively successful. It will depend on the child, the schedules of the parents and their flexibility. A third party, such as a mental health professional and/or a parenting coordinator might provide useful and creative input from their experience with a particular application to the child at issue. One such creative timesharing schedule might allow the non-majority timesharing parent regular and frequent access for an activity and/or dinner while having a small amount of overnights initially with a small gradual increase for a certain time frame before the parties meet (with or without another professional) and have a frank conversation about what has worked, what hasn’t worked and what changes are necessary.
We understand that everyone has a different family dynamic. We have assisted many individuals in formulating unique timesharing arrangements that have worked for their families.