Custody: PRP vs. ARP and Joint Custody
The primary residential parent (PRP) is the parent with whom the child resides more than fifty percent of the time. The alternate residential parent (ARP) is the parent with whom the child resides less than fifty percent of the time. Joint custody can mean a variety of things to different people. However, when I think of true, joint custody, I think of a 50/50 split of parenting time. By this I mean one week with the mother and one week with the father. Generally, I do not recommend true, joint, 50/50 custody arrangements unless the parties get along extremely well and live very close to one another. Oftentimes, this is not the case. After all, if the parties got along well, then they probably would not be getting divorced. A 50/50 split of parenting time can be very hard on the children. It can be too much back and forth. Children tend to do better knowing this is my home, this is my room, this is where my things are, and these are the rules and the routine that I will follow the majority of the time. It is hard to foster such a routine and continuity when children are going back and forth every week like a “tennis ball in a tennis match.”
Visitation: Days with Mother vs. Days with Father
Parents should set a visitation schedule that is in the best interest of the children first and foremost. Parents should consider where they each live, their work schedules, the children’s school schedules, and the children’s extracurricular activities. Parents must also understand that the number of days they each receive with the child(ren) will be one factor in determining the amount of child support that one will pay and the other will receive. This should not be the primary consideration in setting a visitation schedule, but it must be a factor in each parent’s decision making process on this issue.
Holidays and Your Family Traditions
When parents are looking at setting holiday visitation for each parent with the children I always advise them to think of the children first, but to also consider each side of the family’s holiday traditions. I strongly believe that each parent should try to honor each side of the family’s holiday traditions. For example, if the mother’s family opens Christmas presents on Christmas Eve every year, and the father’s side of the family opens Christmas presents on Christmas morning, then the parents should set the children’s Christmas visitation schedule accordingly. However, if both sides of the family have the exact same traditions, then the holiday visitation should alternate in even and odd years.
Fall, Winter/Christmas, Spring, & Summer Breaks
All of the major breaks from school for the children should be handled in the same way, and that is to alternate them in even and odd years, unless one parent is off work and the other parent is not. Again, the parents should try to work well with one another for the benefit of the children. Temporary and Permanent Parenting Plans are really about the children, not the parents.
Be sure to check back next week for Part 2. Also, our office will be posting corresponding videos that mirror this information, but that will include additional information. We hope you find all of this information helpful to you during a difficult time.