Parenting Time When Working Unusual Hours

By Angela Foy

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell, P.C.

Often readers will ask about the logistics of sharing child custody and parenting time when they work unusual hours or work periods. For instance, the security guard who has to work nights or the offshore driller who works two full weeks then receives two full weeks off.

Obviously an every other weekend or Monday-Wednesday-Friday parenting schedule will not work for those situations. So what do people who work these abnormal schedules do to get time with their children?

When a court sets a parenting schedule in a custody and placement order, it is typically required to set a schedule that allows the children to have regularly occurring, meaningful periods of physical placement with each parent that maximizes the amount of time the child may spend with each parent.  Generally, while maximizing time with each parent does not require equal time with each parent, if the court finds that an equal placement arrangement is appropriate in your case, it can order that schedule in many different ways.

The type of schedule that is appropriate depends on many factors, and often the age of the children is a starting point.  Psychologists generally agree that older children can handle being separated from one parent for longer periods of time.  For example, take the offshore worker who may work 14 days on, 14 days off. It may be appropriate for him to have a two-week rotating schedule: two weeks with him and then two weeks with their mother, but not if his children are very young.  I have also seen courts order the two weeks, with an overnight in-between awarded to the other parent, if that parent is available.  In that case, their mother would have placement on the Saturday in between his two weeks of placement.

Parents that are able to work cooperatively to schedule placement have also requested in a stipulation an order that is very flexible.  They agree to set the schedule themselves under the guidelines that each parent will have approximately the same number of overnights each month, or even for the year over all.  In those situations, the parents plan a new schedule every few months based on each other’s work schedule.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Whether the order is the result of trial or stipulation, the paramount concern is what is best for the children.  If an equal schedule between the parents is best for the children, then if can be ordered in a way that works for you and meets their needs.  If two weeks at a time or an alternative arrangement is not in your children’s best interests, then it will not be ordered.  However, even if equal placement is not a possibility, shared placement may still be appropriate.  If you have each weekend you are not working, and then a two-week alternating schedule over the summer, you still have approximately one-third of the placement time.  This may be expanded if you have additional vacation time as well.

The schedule that is best for your case depends on many factors and the specific rules in your jurisdiction. You should discuss your case with a domestic litigation attorney in your jurisdiction.

Divorce Attorney Angela Foy

Angela Foy is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisc., office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. where her primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Foy is licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin, the U.S. District Court, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin. 

 Ms. Foy received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of Notre Dame. She then continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from Marquette University.

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3 comments on “Parenting Time When Working Unusual Hours

    I see where mom works dad doesnt she gets 70/30 dad works mom doesnt she gets 70/30 the rules are too far all over the map. I have 50/50 and literally took a temporary 3rd shift to help work while they look for a supervisor. Keep in mind while together and even currently this job has once provided her not to work, and takes very good care of my son, but whisk here we go back to court. He has been on the same schedule for a year now its an issue and she wants to disrupt it for her own personal gains.

    I see where both parents work and Mom gives dad every opportunity for 50/50 custody that he tells everyone he wants, but dad is too tired from working a desk job from 8 am – 4pm to take the kid. But because mom and dad live in the neighborhood and mom can see dad’s parking lot from her living room window, she notices that he’s not too tired to have all the boys over to watch hockey until 2 am. She also sees that those same friends are also there every time kiddo is at dads. Mom never asks dad for a legal custody order or child support and lives by dad’s rotating variable work schedule, but dad will only take the kid when he’s not working and there’s nothing else going on. Then dad puts on the water works around everybody with the “I just want more time with my son!” Schtick. Well dad, mom offered for you to take him for an entire week last week like You’ve been begging for but you were too tired. Mom offered for you to take the kid on your 3 day weekend but you only wanted him Friday and Sunday because Hockey night in Canada, and mom was fine with that because she actually cherishes her time with our child and devote that time to him. Our child is only 7 and I’m already having to convince him that his dad loves him and wants him around. I have to convince him that he is more imortant than his dad’s friends, even though from what I see I don’t believe it.

    And please for the love of God can you please put some Vaseline on our child’s dermatitis rash when he’s with you. The 2 days he’s with you undoes the 5 days of progress I’ve made with it and if you don’t do something it’s going to turn into impetigo which requires antibiotics.

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