Your children are each unique in their own way. They may each be reacting to your divorce differently. Long term, they need a child custody plan that fits their physical, social, educational and emotional needs.

Fortunately, you and your ex are allowed to get creative under Ohio law. As long as your custody arrangement meets your children’s best interests, the judge will likely accept it, even if it is different than many shared custody or sole custody and parenting time schedules. Different does not mean bad. It can mean that your family has unique requirements that a customized plan would best support.

Child custody schedules that are different

Here are some examples of unique child custody plans that might work well for your family after divorce.

  • Bird nesting. In this type of arrangement, instead of shuttling between your house and where your ex lives, your children live in one home full-time. Meanwhile, the parents move in and out. Say you have custody Monday through Friday and your ex has parenting time on weekends. You would live with the kids during the week, then spend the weekend away while your ex lives at the house. The idea behind bird nesting is to give the kids greater stability, though it requires a great deal of flexibility, planning and coordination between the co-parents.
  • Third-party time. Some families prefer to have the children spend part of their time with their grandparents, an aunt and uncle, or other nonparent third parties. This can give the children the chance to bond with more relatives, while also giving each of you more time off from the challenges of being a single parent.
  • Alternatives to weekend visits. It is common for one parent to have custody during the school week, with the other parent taking over from Friday evening to Sunday evening. As an alternative or addition, the noncustodial parent can have parenting time from Friday until Monday evening, or get a non-overnight visit during the week, for example, on Wednesday evening.
  • Online parenting time. If regular in-person parenting time is not feasible, video chat apps like Zoom can be the next best thing.

These examples may give you some ideas for child custody. Working with your divorce attorney, you can develop an idea of what would work best for your children. If your co-parent is on the same page, it could be reasonably easy to negotiate a custody agreement. If not, it may be necessary to have the judge decide. In that case, your lawyer will use evidence to show why your preferred plan should be made into an order.

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