The Weekend Child Visitation Schedule: Weighing Pros and Cons

A recent survey found that more families of divorce are choosing diverse and customized child visitation schedules. However, the traditional weekend visitation plan, in which children spend the week with one parent and the weekend with the other, is still very popular in parenting plans. What are the benefits and drawbacks of the weekend child visitation schedule?

Benefits of the Weekend Child Visitation Schedule

  • Kids get equal time with each parent – With time at school factored in, parents get a roughly equal amount of time with their children.
  • Kids don’t get shuttled multiple times per week – Some parents prefer switching physical custody every two or three days, but that can leave kids feeling like they are never settled down in one place.
  • Kids get an uninterrupted school week – Especially if you and your ex live in different school districts, switching physical custody during the school week can be logistically difficult, time-consuming, and tough on your kids.

Drawbacks of Weekend Child Visitation Schedules

  • One parent rarely gets the children during the weekend – You may feel like you never get to see your children regularly and may not be able to establish a schedule with your children when they only visit on the weekends.

  • One parent rarely gets the children during the week – You may feel like the other parents get the kids during the fun, free weekends while you have the children during the drudgery of the school week.

  • Children may dislike being away from school friends over the weekend – When children are whisked away for the weekend, they may feel like they are missing out on school-related or neighborhood-related activities.
  • Children may feel like one place is more like home – Even though parents get an almost equal amount of time with their kids, the children may feel like home is the place where they sleep five nights out of the week.

As you can see, there are both benefits and drawbacks to the weekend visitation schedule. However, how you and your ex approach this schedule can have a huge impact on how successful it is.

Tips for a Successful Child Visitation Weekend

  • Remember that kids thrive on schedules – One of the difficult aspects of child visitation is that it is disruptive to children’s schedules, which in turn affects their sense of security. Try to drop off and pick up children at the same time. If you have the kids on the weekend, try to have a loose schedule even though the kids might not have school or activities.
  • Add a few special rituals – Rituals can add structure to your visits and make departures easier. Try meeting and having lunch as a family when you drop the children off. Or get your children a special duffle bag to pack when they go to their dads. Or tuck a note in their bags before they leave that they can read over the weekend. Big or small, these rituals can be fun, meaningful, or even funny.
  • Have a common set of rules – If at all possible, communicate openly with your spouse and determine a set of rules that reign supreme at both households. This will give your kids a sense of continuality and make certain that they see their parents as a unified front.
  • Keep a common calendar – Even if you always have the kids on weekends (or during the week) doesn’t mean that you have full decision-making power—your children could have an important school event or social event. Using a common calendar (there are lots of choices online) can help coordinate these events and eliminate misunderstandings.
  • Find out if your children have plans – If you have school-aged children, they will likely have weekend activities somewhat often, from a sleepover to a little league game to a school play. Make sure that all of these events are listed on a common family calendar.
  • Resist being a Disneyland Dad – Whether you are a mom or a dad, try to avoid making weekends non-stop adventures filled with ice cream and thrills. Don’t try to buy your children’s love or make up for the divorce. Your children need love and security—and your attention.
  • Quality time is most important – Whether you are hanging out in your backyard or at a baseball game, the most important thing you can do is spending quality time with your kids. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Listen to what they have to say. Love them. That’s more important than any activity.

The weekend visitation schedule can be tough for both parents and kids. Open communication and lots of love and understanding can help you eliminate many common issues. Obviously, all child custody plans will be difficult in some ways and there is no ideal plan that leaves children and parents with no complaints. Sometimes, the most you can do is choose the best plan for your family and be sure to give your child as much love, attention, and security as you can when they are in your possession.

Do you need assistance with child custody or Washington parenting plan? Call the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today to speak with a Seattle child custody attorney at 425-460-0550.

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny