Creating Your Child Visitation Schedule

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Creating a child visitation schedule will take some time and effort, but it pays off in the long run. A stable child custody schedule allows parents and children to avoid confusion about visitation times and other custody matters. This can help parents reduce conflict; help the children adjust to their new circumstances, and help the whole family feel more secure about the custody situation. This schedule is the heart of the custody agreement, and you should work to make the best possible schedule for your children.

Type of Visitation Schedule

Creating a child visitation schedule will take some time and effort, but it pays off in the long run. A stable child custody schedule allows parents and children to avoid confusion about visitation times and other custody matters. This can help parents reduce conflict; help the children adjust to their new circumstances, and help the whole family feel more secure about the custody situation. This schedule is the heart of the custody agreement, and you should work to make the best possible schedule for your children.

Woman's hand pointing to date on calendar

The foundation of the schedule is the basic, repeating cycle of custody. To determine the repeating cycle, the first thing you need to do is determine the type of custody arrangement you want. You can have a sole custody arrangement, in which the children primarily live with one parent and visit the other parent, or you might have a joint custody situation, where the children spend significant amounts of time with both the mother and the father. You should base your decision on what is best for the child.

Once you determine whether there will be sole or joint residential custody, you can create the repeating child visitation schedule. To begin with, write out the schedule of custody and visitation for a few weeks. Once the schedule starts repeating, you stop and count the number of weeks that you've scheduled. For example, if you write out a schedule for four weeks and then it starts to repeat, this is a four week schedule. If you write out a schedule where the parents alternate weeks, this will result in a two week schedule. Once you have the repeating cycle, you go through the calendar and write out the custody and visitation for the year.

Holiday Visitation

The next step is to create a holiday schedule. Make a list of all the holidays that that you would like included in the schedule. This list can include national holidays, religious holidays, and/or school holidays. Determine when the holidays start and end (for example, Thanksgiving can last for a four day weekend, two days, the afternoon, etc.) and then review your list and divide the holidays between the parents. The mother and father should have about the amount of same holiday time. You can alternate the holidays every year, alternate some of the holidays, or come up with a different holiday rotation system.

The holiday schedule takes preference over the repeating cycle. So, if the father is scheduled for regular visitation over Memorial Day weekend, but you are scheduled to have the holiday, you get the holiday. Once you have determined the holiday time, you should go through the calendar and mark in the custody time.

Special Events and Vacations

The next part of the custody schedule is to add in the special events and vacations to the calendar. A special event is any time where the normal custody routine changes. If your child is scheduled to play soccer during the fall, then the visitation night might need to change because of the games. You should go through and mark any special events that you know about. Others will most likely come up in the year, but there may not be as much notice.

You and your ex can decide on specific dates when you can take the children on vacation, or you can have an unspecified vacation in your schedule. An unspecified vacation is a clause that allows the mother and father to both take the children up to a certain number of days for vacation. They must give the other parent adequate notification when they want to take the vacation. You can also decide to change the repeating cycle for spring or summer vacation if you want. (Get more Post Divorce Vacation Pointers).

Visitation Stipulations

Finally, you want to consider any provisions or stipulations that can help your child visitation schedule run more smoothly. You can include provisions about transportation to visitation, how the parents will make changes to the schedule, how the parents will decide on the children's activities that affect the schedule, etc. Choose provisions which will help you and the father to manage the custody situation better.


You can easily create your own custody schedule and parenting plan using Custody X Change.


Once the child visitation schedule has been made, you can focus on enjoying your time with the children. You will have the peace of mind that comes from knowing what is going on with the schedule. If you want to make any changes to your set schedule, you can do so by talking to the father or by petitioning the court.

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