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Choosing a parenting schedule for 50-50 custody

Developing a parenting schedule is one of the first and most important things that you and your spouse will do after you begin living separately if you are sharing custody of your children. By setting a schedule, you provide much-needed predictability for your children. You also show them that you can continue to work together as co-parents.

Having a parenting schedule will also help you and your spouse plan your lives, which are likely in some turmoil. The schedule you choose will depend on a number of factors, including how far apart you live from one another and your children's needs, such as extracurricular activities.

Following are two common scheduling options that parents who decide to split custody of their kids 50-50 choose from:

Biweekly: This is when kids alternate weeks spent with each parent -- one week with mom, the next week with dad and then back. This schedule can allow kids to "settle in" at each home. It also minimizes the number of drop-offs and pick-ups for parents.

A biweekly schedule may work best for older kids who can go without seeing one parent or the other for a week. However, you may decide to plan for a mid-week visit from the other parent to ease the separation anxiety (for parents and kids). This schedule requires parents to be comfortable with single parenting for an entire week, so it may not always be the best choice at first.

2-2-3: This schedule lets parents alternate custody every two days followed by a three-day weekend. With this schedule, each parents gets the kids for a three-day weekend every other week.

A 2-2-3 schedule allows kids to adjust to being away from one parent or the other without going for too long without seeing both of them. However, it means more time spent preparing for exchanges and in transit.

There are other variations on 50-50 custody as well. The schedule you choose in the early days after your break-up may not be the one you stick with. It's essential to see how your kids adapt to a parenting schedule and how it works for you. Further, your children's needs and preferences will change as they get older.

Your Arizona family law attorney can go through the various schedules you have to choose from, or you and your co-parent may decide on something altogether different that works best for your family.

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