How to Create an Optimum Parenting Schedule

Learn how to create your optimum custody schedule and how Alimentor can support your planning habits.

Tomasz Domański

Alimentor Author

Cherie Morris

Divorce Coach

Why do You Need to Plan

Children need routines and predictability. Knowing in advance when they will stay with each parent will certainly help them deal better with parents separation.

Your offspring had both of you before the divorce and you should think rationally about what’s best for them and what is possible for you post‑divorce.

To make sure that you can spend the right amount of time with your children, increase their emotional security and minimize conflicts with other commitments, you need to plan ahead.

In many jurisdictions, a formal Parenting Plan is part of the Divorce Agreement. In other jurisdictions, there is no formal requirement, but it is one of the most important elements of your divorce as it involves your child(ren)’s well‑being.

Taking the initiative and proposing a detailed visitation calendar for the coming months will significantly increase the chances of establishing a potentially optimum schedule.

Planning ahead can help you realize limitations and obstacles that are difficult to spot until you actually try to come up with a detailed parenting time schedule. It helps you confront your aspirations with what is actually possible.

Divorce through a Child’s Eyes

If you have current conflict, based on the divorce, it can be difficult to think clearly about how this looks to your children.

It’s a critical mistake, however, not to do so. It’s clear most kids, and most parents, benefit from some form of shared custody. That’s worth repeating: Kids thrive when they spend time with and are cared for by both of their parents, even when both parents live apart after a divorce.

It’s not the divorce that hurts kids but the conflict between their parents. So, in addition to sharing parenting time, it’s important to manage the entire process from scheduling to drop‑offs and pick‑ups so that your children do not feel the conflict that may exist between you and your ex.

1. Understand Your Commitments

Finding the right balance between parenting, work and relationships with family and friends can be challenging. But it is always better to make informed and timely decisions based on mutual agreement than to procrastinate and keep coming up with the last‑minute solutions.

To be able to come up with an optimum schedule, you need to make sure that your calendar contains all important events that need to be taken into account when planning your time with kids.

Update your iCloud, Google or Alimentor calendar with events related to your children’s needs and schedules:
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Other school and sports events
  • School holidays
  • Parent‑teacher conferences

Add commitments related to your work, health, hobbies and social relationships:
  • Business trips and other all‑day work commitments
  • Workshops, classes and other important events that you want to attend
  • Doctor’s appointments

Finally, add holidays and family events:
  • State specific holidays calendar
  • Family members birthdays and other anniversaries

Scheduling Parenting Time

2. Estimate Your Target Custodial Timeshare

The amount of time you spend with your child is known as “custodial timeshare”. In many jurisdictions to has a direct impact on the amount of child support you pay or receive.

Although the final custody percentage may not be the same as the one established in this step, starting with a good estimate will help narrow down the choices along the way, making it easier to work out an optimum visitation schedule.

In this step try to imagine as realistically as possible, what timeshare percentage can work in your particular situation.

Parenting schedules with a 50/50 time split are great for many but not adequate for all families.

You can start by reviewing your calendar for the next month and counting the days when you can take care of your children.

3. Determine Changeovers Frequency

The recommended frequency of transitions depends on the age of your child. A younger child may do better with frequent visits with both parents (rotation every 2 days), while older children may find it easier to manage less frequent changeovers.

Read the following advice and then try to determine the optimum rotation frequency:
  • Infants and Toddlers: Generally, this age requires more frequent transitions to maintain a relationship with both parents as primary caregivers if that is your goal. An important consideration is whether one parent is breastfeeding or is not working outside of the home to care for the child.
  • Young children: It’s a good idea to have a consistent routine for young children as they rely on stability and regularity. They are often “fact based” at this age and can, often, adapt to more frequent transitions as long as they understand where they will be and when. They need contact with both parents too and more frequent transitions can help maintain that connection.
  • Tweens and Teens: Often, at this age, a child has more to manage outside the home, including schoolwork, friendships, sports and extracurricular activities. This means it is often preferable to have a schedule that allows the child to stay for a longer period of time in one household to minimize disruption to their schedule and allow them to “settle in” one home for a period of time.

4. Consider Travel Obligations

Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Do you or your co‑parent travel for work or other reasons on an unpredictable schedule?
  • Can you or they accommodate the schedule you want without making it an issue for the kids?

If travel is an issue for one or both of you, it may be necessary to think through a plan before implementing a particular schedule.

5. Decide How You Want to Rotate the Schedule

Based on what you already know, try to decide how you want the schedule to rotate.

For example, if you are sharing 50/50 custody, here are typical options:
  • The alternating weeks schedule: Your child(ren) spend(s) 1 week with one parent and the next week with the other parent.
  • 2 weeks schedule: Your child(ren) spend(s) 2 weeks with one parent and then 2 weeks with the other parent.
  • The 3-4-4-3 schedule: Your child(ren) spend(s) 3 days with one parent, 4 days with the other parent, 4 days with the first parent and then 3 days with the other parent.
  • The 2-2-5-5 schedule: Your child(ren) spend(s) 2 days with each parent and then 5 days with each parent.
  • The 2-2-3 schedule: Your child(ren) spend(s) 2 days with one parent, 2 days with the other parent and 3 days with the first parent. Then, the next week it switches.
  • The alternating every 2 days schedule: Your child(ren) switch between the parents every 2 days.

One advantage of the 2-2-5-5 schedule is having your child(ren) consistent days of the week, that is, you will always have Mondays and Tuesdays or Wednesdays and Thursdays, for example, which allow you to schedule particular lessons or events for consistent days that they are with you. The disadvantage is a relatively short time period between transition, so it may be more practical with younger children unless your tweens and teens don’t mind the shuttling around part very much.

6. Adjust for the Level of Cooperation

If your relationship with your co‑parent is already good, you can likely make almost any schedule work. If it isn’t, and you do not anticipate improvement, you may need to have a schedule with some specificity, for example, choosing a neutral place like the school or an extra‑curricular activity, so that picking up and dropping off does not require you to see your co‑parent in person. Either way, flexibility is required in both situations to diffuse any tension that may exist between you and your ex. Flexibility also helps to keep the child(ren) out of the conflict too.

7. Model Your Parenting Schedule

Now it is time to model your schedule to see how it aligns with your preferences and existing obligations. This will also let you check the timeshare that you will be spending with your children as this percentage will have a major impact on child support.

Regular Schedule

Use multiple recurring events to create complex visitation schedules.

For example, to define a 3-2-2 parenting plan, create 3 events, each repeating biweekly:
  • Friday-Monday (3 n),
  • Wednesday-Friday (2 n),
  • Monday-Wednesday (2 n).

Keep changing recurrence settings until you are satisfied with the resulting dates and timeshare percentage. Be sure that your decisions have the best possible impact on your children's well‑being.


In addition to the normal schedule, you should also consider how holidays, vacations, and other days off from school will work. This can all be part of your Parenting Agreement. Often, co‑parents alternate holidays and days off from school annually or, and this is the important part, in the way that best works for them and their child(ren). The key, again, is a plan that is workable and keeps conflict low(er).

Individual Adjustments

To avoid conflicts with work commitments and other important events, review the upcoming months and decide how you can reschedule any visits that require individual adjustments.

When editing individual planned visitations, always check how these changes affect your timeshare percentage.

Learn more about defining schedules in Alimentor ▶

8. Verify Your Custodial Timeshare

Calculating the correct timeshare (aka custody percentage), requires knowing the exact amount of hours or nights the children spend with each parent.

Alimentor uses two different calculation bases, showing:
  • Timeshare percentage (hr %) - based on hours
  • Nights percentage (n %) - based on nights
Reports can include and compare two timeshares:
  • Scheduled - based on the modeled custody schedule.
  • Actual - based on actual dates and times spend by a parent with the child.

The percentages are shown in two sections of the report: “Calendar” and “Summary”.

Check if you are satisfied with the calculated custody percentage. If not, check what changes to your schedule can you make to archive the desired timeshare.

9. Share Your Custody Calendar

To successfully implement your modeled custody schedule it should be shared and thoroughly discussed with the other parent and, if necessary, with other caregivers, such as grandparents.

Your Alimentor calendar can be shared in several ways:
  • iCloud Sync allows you to share your entire database with other Alimentor users. This is the easiest, fastest and most secure way of sharing your records.
  • You can set up automatic export of Alimentor events to external calendar accounts configured on your iPhone/iPad/Mac. In this way, you can indirectly share your Alimentor calendar with someone who cannot install the app. If your ex is using an Android device or a Windows computer, share with them your Gmail, Outlook or iCloud calendar containing events exported by Alimentor.
  • If you do not want to share your data online, you can generate a report that includes your modeled custody schedule calendar and send it as a PDF document to the other parent.

10. Track Deviations

Establishing a realistic parenting agreement can be challenging. Ensuring compliance with it is usually even a more tedious task.

To let you document and control the gap between your agreed custody schedule and reality, each Alimentor record can store information about both planned and actual visitation dates and hours.

After changing the status of the record from “Planned” to “Actual”, make the necessary changes to store the actual start and end care times.

If the event did not occur (no‑show, withheld visitation) then mark it as cancelled.

Use the disagreement flag to‑indicate records that document situations when the other parent did not comply with the established parenting plan.

Learn more about tracking deviations in Alimentor ▶

Tracking Parenting Time Deviations

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We want our articles to be as helpful and comprehensive as possible. Your personal experience and practical knowledge can help thousands of divorcing parents. We invite you to share your input and comments with us by sending an email to:

Cherie Morris practices as a Parent Coordinator and Certified Divorce Coach. She is trained as a lawyer, yoga teacher and is also an author and mother.

You can reach Cherie at or 301‑928‑4695.