An every-other-weekend visitation calendar is the most popular kind of parenting plan. Use these examples to find the best alternating weekend timetable for your children.
Every Other Weekend Meaning
Every Other Weekend is a visitation arrangement where the children mainly see one parent during the week (typically the mother) and see the other parent (usually the father) on alternate weekends.
Generally, the arrangement is interpreted as meaning this:
- The children (or child) live with their Mum the majority of the time.
- Dad collects the children after school on a Friday and has them for the weekend (until Sunday evening or Monday morning). The weekend visit is repeated next fortnight.
- The children might also have midweek time with Dad (but spend most of their time with Mum).
- A different calendar can apply during school holidays (such as a week at a time with Dad).
Every Other Weekend Calendar Examples
These calendar examples show which arrangements are possible under an "every other weekend" parenting plan. You can see how such timetables are written up in our plans and orders examples.
- Morning (9am) changeovers are illustrated but swaps can happen at other times (e.g. 3pm or 5pm).
- All changeovers are timed to happen in school hours (so no travel between homes is normally required).
A. Minimal Contact visitation calendar
The minimal contact visitation calendar may be appropriate where parents are separated by a long distance and travel is difficult. The children's contact time with Dad is limited to once every other weekend (with a gap of 11+ days between visits). A long gap between visits is detrimental to child development outcomes (Gould).
B. Midweek Visit
The Midweek Visit schedule breaks up the fortnight by including a visit with Dad during the week. Unfortunately, the calendar still includes a regular gap of almost a week between visits (from one midweek visit to the next). Such a gap is long enough for significant childhood events to come and pass without any involvement (or even awareness) by the parent.
C. Weekend Bookends
The Weekend Bookends visitation timetable avoids long gaps between visits. For both parents, an overnight stay is scheduled on the Thursday before, and the Monday after, the other parent's weekend. The children spend no more than 3 nights away from either parent. For a parent with less than 6 nights care per fortnight, the timetable is still "gappy".
D. Mixed Days
If a father has 6 days/nights care each fortnight, an option is the Mixed Days calendar. It extends the Weekend Bookend schedule by adding an extra visit on a spare Tuesday or Wednesday. Children have frequent contact with both parents. However, the calendar is inconsistent in terms of which nights the children stay with a given parent.
E. Fixed Midweek
The Fixed Midweek calendar can be used where the father has 6 nights care per fortnight. Tuesday to Thursday nights are fixed, typically with Dad taking Wednesday. The kids have another night with Dad on the Monday following Mum's weekend. The plan offers consistency and frequent contact.
Worried About Kids Being Shuffled Around? Don't Be
It's fair enough to be concerned about the negative effects of children moving between households. You want children to have a happy, secure and relatively stable childhood. But is disruption from changeovers an important consideration for visitation calendars?
For 3 reasons, we believe the answer is "No". If it's logistically possible to have frequent changeovers, it should be done.
- Maintaining close contact with both parents is a priority for the development of children. The cost of keeping a child in one place for days on end is that the child is missing out on personal contact with his or her other parent for days on end. That's a high price to pay for stability.
- As the example calendars show, changeovers can be timed to happen through school. During a normal week, kids in a shared parenting arrangement do not have to travel any further than other kids.
- Moving between houses is something the average child can comfortably handle. As explained below, it's less of a big deal than going to school.
Attending school vs seeing your Dad
Imagine that a parenting plan was proposed to a family court judge whereby a child would:
- be separated from their primary carer for 10 visits per fortnight, each visit lasting several hours
- be cared for by a person with whom the child has no significant attachment
- interact with many virtual strangers without close supervision.
In the context of a parenting timetable, such a proposal would most likely be rejected as disruptive, risky, overly complicated, and harmful to the child's emotional well-being. But, of course, it describes what happens when a child attends school.
Attending school is widely accepted as normal and just part of life. Frequent contact between a child and each parent should be viewed similarly. Moving between homes is both manageable and worthwhile.
The vast majority of children who lived with their mothers after their parents’ divorce disliked having so little time with their fathers. In contrast, the vast majority who have lived in shared residential parenting families say the inconvenience of living in two homes was worth it – primarily because they were able to maintain strong relationships with both parents.
Alternative Visitation Calendars
Here are alternative visitation calendars to "every other weekend".
The plans also have continuous blocks of time on weekends.
Alternating Blocks is an equal-time shared care plan. Children spend alternating blocks of 2-3 days with each parent. The blocks are 3 days for the weekend and 2 days during the week. The plan is predictable for children and avoids long gaps between visits. Parents need to cooperate because care is not fixed by the day of the week.
Every 3rd Weekend
Every Third Weekend is a neat plan for parents with a 4:3 care split.
- Children see their Dad every Monday and Thursday and every 3rd weekend.
- The timetable is balanced. Children have predictable weeks, regular changeovers, and a good amount of weekend time with each parent.