Non-Traditional Parenting Time Schedules – COVID Update

By Allison Fredrickson | Family & Divorce Law

There are multiple things to be considered in order to make a child custody and parenting plan work for both the parents and the children. This can become complicated by parents who don’t have traditional work hours, i.e. police officers, pilots, doctors, nurses, etc. It is important to be flexible in these types of situations, but it doesn’t mean that an equal parenting time schedule is out of the question. With COVID-19 being ever present now, and school schedules changing, parents need to be mindful and more flexible than ever.


Some people travel frequently or have a schedule where they work overnights or four days in a row, with three days off. Maintaining a schedule that is the norm for some people might not be an option. Your employment should never be held against you or negate your rights to parent your children, you just need to be more creative in creating a parenting plan that is unique. If you made it work during the time you were together as a family, you can make it work when you live separately as well.

A non-traditional parenting plan might include considering the following:

  • Maintaining relationship with both parents
  • Transportation for parenting time and to school
  • Alternative care if a parent isn’t available
  • Changes to a schedule if a parent’s schedule changes frequently
  • Designated meeting times to plan for changes to the schedule so that you don’t end up back in court
  • The desires of the children
  • Maintaining an environment that allows for emotional stability
  • School and education concerns

Unfortunately, not one solution fits all situations. It will take time, effort, and a level of cooperation between the parents to find arrangements that work for everyone. Having the children keep a strong bond with both parents should be the ultimate consideration.


The pandemic is frightening for everyone, but especially when parents are trying to share custody and figure out parenting time and school schedules. Even with stay at home orders in place in varying degrees, and schools being cancelled, custody orders do not change. Parents should maintain their schedules as closely as they can. It is important to discuss the respective parent’s schedules and the children’s school schedules and try to figure out what works best for everyone. The most important thing is that schoolwork gets done and kids are safe. Listen to your co-parents concerns and try to work together to come up with a solution that makes all parties feel comfortable.

Another important consideration is children’s mental health and anxieties surrounding the pandemic and what their schedules might look like, with school and with parenting time. There are several good resources out there for having these conversations: CDC, Mayo Clinic, Kids Health from Nemours, and PBS

If there is a disagreement as to home schooling or in person learning options, mediation might be necessary to come to a resolution. If that does not work, contact a family law attorney who can advise you of your rights.

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