Parents who are seeking or have been granted equal custody time with their children have a variety of custody schedules to consider. Some parents prefer one week on and one week off schedules, while others prefer a plan that allows them to spend a few days with their children every week, like a 3-4-4-3, 2-2-3, 5-2-2-5 or 2-2-5-5 custody schedule. Preferences aside, the courts have a big say in the matter, and parents don’t always get what they want.
The court will consider many factors when deciding which child custody plan is in the best interest of a child. Some of these factors include the age of the child, the parents’ work schedules, each parent’s ability to care for the child (emotionally and financially), what duties and responsibilities each parent has handled in the past and what if any custody arrangements have worked best recently, among other considerations.
What is a 2-2-5-5 custody schedule?
A 2-2-5-5 custody schedule visitation plan is one type of schedule available to parents who have agreed to split parenting time equally. Parents with a 50/50 custody plan each have physical custody of their child 50% of the time. With a 2-2-5-5 schedule, parenting time is split into two two-day and two five-day blocks, which play out over a two-week period, then repeat.
There are different variations of 2-2-5-5 custody schedule guidelines but parents frequently start the schedule on a Monday, with the first parent having custody of the child Monday and Tuesday. The child then stays overnight with the other parent Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, the child goes back to the first parent for five days, then to the second parent for five days.
This arrangement allows both parents to enjoy one long weekend with their child during each two-week period. With a 2-2-5-5 custody schedule, both parents always have the child during the same two-day stretch every week. Parent one has the child on Mondays and Tuesdays and parent two has the child Wednesdays and Thursdays (or whatever two days they decide), which makes it easier for parents who need to plan work and social activities in advance.
Other popular 2-2-5-5 custody agreement examples include:
- 5-2-2-5 parenting time schedule. When parents opt for a 5-2-2-5 parenting schedule calendar, one parent always has Monday and Tuesday overnights, while the second parent always has Wednesday and Thursday overnights. Friday, Saturday, Sunday overnights alternate between parents every other week.
- 2-5-5-2 parenting time schedule. With this schedule, only one parent has the kids on weekends. Parent one has the kids overnight for two days, Monday and Tuesday. Parent two then has the kids for five days, Wednesday through Sunday night. Parent one gets their five-day block during the week (Monday through Friday nights), with parent two getting their two days over the weekend (Saturday and Sunday nights).
- 5-5-2-2 parenting time schedule. Co-parents who have this arrangement start the two-week rotation with one five-day block each, followed by one two-day block for each parent. Parents who want to alternate the long weekend usually start these schedules on Wednesday or Friday.
Who is a good fit for a 2-2-5-5 split custody schedule?
A parent may think they want a 2-2-5-5 shared custody agreement but those arrangements aren’t necessarily the best fit for some parents or the most beneficial for certain children. That being said, the feeling of being equal with the other parent is a natural desire for many people, and there are some situations where 50/50 custody and the 2-2-5-5 arrangement makes sense. The 2-2-5-5-custody schedule may be a good idea for:
Parents who get along. The 2-2-5-5 custody schedule typically works best for parents who have an amicable relationship. Parents need to communicate on a regular basis to make custody schedules work where children are frequently going back and forth between homes during the week.
Parents who live near one another. Since there is so much back and forth, the 2-2-5-5 split custody schedule also works better for parents who live in close proximity to one another and their child’s school. No more than 10-15 miles apart is generally a good rule of thumb.
Parents with predictable work schedules. Many parents have jobs where they have to be on call or their schedules change from week to week, month to month or even more randomly. For example, pilots and firefighters can have schedules that are hard to pin down. The 2-2-5-5 schedule usually isn’t a good fit for those folks.
Parents who want to see their kids every week. If you’re a parent with a 50/50 custody agreement and can’t bear the thought of only seeing your child every other week, then a 2-2-5-5 parenting time schedule may be a good fit for you.
Parents with young children. While going back and forth between homes multiple times a week can be a hassle, it’s important for infants and toddlers to spend quality time with both parents during the week. They need that consistent exposure to both parents in order to bond and feel secure. (I’ve even seen some parents with infants do a one day on and one day off schedule when they live close by but those arrangements are rare.)
Research also shows that when parents have a joint custody arrangement, preschool children benefit more psychologically compared to children who spend most or all of their time with one parent. When kids get older and their lives involve more homework and more extracurricular activities, the 2-2-5-5 schedule can be challenging for them to deal with. It’s a good idea to consider the pros and cons of the 2-2-5-5 custody schedule by age as a child gets older.
Situations where a child has everything they need in both homes. If you’re going to share custody 50/50 and the child will be moving frequently between homes, they need to feel like both homes are a safe, nurturing and comfortable place to be. Children also benefit when they have a similar set-up in both homes and their rooms, so the frequent switches aren’t so jarring. The fewer items they need to pack-up for each exchange (clothes, games, toys, electronics, etc.), the better.
Now, just because you can check all of the boxes above, doesn’t mean a 2-2-5-5 parenting plan is the best option for your situation. The court may believe a different custody arrangement would be more beneficial for you and your child. They may even believe that a Standard or Expanded Standard Possession Schedule may work better than a 50/50 plan.
Why the courts shy away from the 2-2-5-5 custody schedule (and prefer standard and expanded standard plans)
Something our child custody lawyers and the Texas Family Courts tend to agree upon is that 7-day custody schedules usually work best. The courts typically prefer that parents follow a standard or expanded standard custody arrangement because over the years they have found these schedules work best for most families.
If a parent gets the first, third and fifth Thursday to Sunday (or Thursday to Monday morning with Expanded Standard), and Thursday evening (or Thursday overnight with Expanded Standard) of possession, they never go more than a couple of days without seeing their child, which really is the goal.
When parents venture too far outside the box, with constantly changing schedules, it can be stressful for children because they don’t have a sense of stability. There are also numerous holidays and vacation breaks parents need to work into the schedule, and if you’re trying to manage a 50/50 plan, that can be challenging. It’s generally easier with the traditional schedules because holidays and vacation are all spelled out in the Texas Family Code Chapter 153.
With the consistency of the Standard and Expanded Standard Possession Schedules, kids know what to expect from week to week. Sure, the child’s primary conservator may end up getting 25 to 30 days more with their child during the year but the courts have found it tends to be easier to avoid scheduling and enforceability issues with Standard and Expanded Standard plans.
That’s not to say Texas family courts won’t consider alternative parenting plans, especially since many families have unique situations and children’s lives and needs evolve over time. As always, the court will consider the best interest of the child when determining which custody schedule makes the most sense.
We also find that some people who fight for 50/50 custody with a 2-2-5-5 parenting plan (or some similar iteration) do so because they don’t want to pay child support in Texas. However, just because you have 50/50 custody doesn’t mean the court won’t order you to pay child support. They will look at the income, resources and expenses of both parents when determining who pays child support and how much.
How to determine which parenting plan will fit your situation best
A good place to start is to consider what is and isn’t working for your family right now. During the temporary orders stage of a child custody suit, you get to test the waters with the traditional standard possession schedule. Is the current schedule working well for you, the other parent and your child?
Or are you determined to share custody equally with a 50/50 schedule? If that’s the case you and the other parent will need to sit down and look at your work and vacation schedules and decide which holidays are important to you. Parents who have a consistent work schedule but work overnight shifts will also want to consider how that will affect what possession days will work best for them.
If your kids are older, it can be helpful to ask them how they feel about the current schedule, if it’s working for them and what if any issues they would like to resolve. The parents (with the court’s blessing) have the final say of course, but it can make the transition easier for children when they’re allowed to make their wishes known. Once you have feedback from all parties involved, it will be easier to decide on a plan that will suit your family best.
We can answer your Texas child custody questions
If you live in the Dallas / Fort Worth area and have questions about child custody and parenting plan options, we can help. To schedule a confidential case review with a child custody lawyer at the Sisemore Law Firm, you can call the firm at (817) 336-4444 or connect with us online.
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