I'm a newly single parent with two young children. Their father would like to stay involved in their lives, but I'm not sure what a typical visitation schedule looks like. What is considered fair?
In a sense, you're asking two separate questions: "What is fair?" and "What is typical?" I'll address what is fair first.
When I was a schoolteacher, I would frequently remind my students that "fair" is not always equal; fair is everyone getting their needs met.
In this case, "everyone" refers to your kids, and they have a right to be raised by, loved by, and cherished by both parents. This is about them, not you. So unless there is reason to believe your children's father is unfit to care for them, you'll want to develop a parenting plan that includes as much time and contact with their dad as you can.
In terms of what is typical, in most states scheduled visitations for the non-custodial parent equal approximately 20% of the total parenting time.Here is a breakdown of how that might look on paper:
It's important to establish a schedule that works well for your entire family. Especially because your children are young right now, they will benefit from a consistent routine.
- Every other weekend
- One weeknight per week
- Two - six weeks in the summer
- Some holidays
In addition, don't let the number 20% limit you. Many families make arrangements that allow for far more visitation time by including additional weekday visits or extended summer vacations with the non-custodial parent.
Finally, work on developing a formal parenting plan with your ex. This will help you to establish standards concerning visitation schedules, pick-up and drop-off routines, communication guidelines, and more.