For many divorced parents, child custody arrangements can be difficult. It may be complicated to work with an ex-spouse to figure out an agreement for allowing the child to spend time with each parent. One common issue is parental work schedules. The most complicated custody issues arise when one of the parents works a non-traditional work schedule, such as night work or weekend shifts. To make adjustments to an existing child custody agreement, a parent should contact a lawyer.
Can I Lose Child Custody Because of My Non-Traditional Work Schedule?
Parents with unusual or variable work shifts may worry that their job schedules will be the basis for denying them time with their children. Courts are not in the practice of denying child custody based on when parents work or what they do for a living as long as it does not negatively affect the children. In fact, the courts are generally in favor of protecting any arrangement that allows the child to maintain a relationship with both parents.
How Does the Court Determine Child Custody?
The role of the court is to rule in favor of the arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. The courts understand that each family has different needs and that parents have to work in order to provide for their families. Though work and other obligations complicate matters, it is common practice for the court to do everything in their power to ensure that the children have the opportunity to spend time with both parents. It is treated as a high priority to keep the parent-child bonds intact.
How can a Parent’s Work Schedule Negatively Affect a Child?
One way that a parent’s work schedule might affect the child might be if the parent works nights and cannot make themselves available to accommodate the child’s routine. The courts are clear that children thrive when they can depend on familiar routines for their days. Babies and young children require consistent sleep and nap schedules and are comforted by familiar rituals and reliable timetables.
When school becomes part of the equation, the school schedule rightly dictates the child’s daily routine. Parents attempting to come up with an acceptable custody-sharing arrangement would be wise to work around these mainstays. Any expectation that the child will conform to meet the needs of the parent’s availability will not be seen as acceptable by the court.
Can Day Care Affect a Child Custody Arrangement?
A parent’s work schedule may affect the custody arrangement if the residential parent wants to send the child to day care at a time when the other parent is available to be with the child. This is true for parents in traditional jobs as well as those who work nights or weekends. Typically, the court prefers for the child to spend time with a parent than any other care giver. If a non-residential parent is able to be with the child, the court is likely to support the change to the day care arrangement.
How can Parents with a Difficult Work Schedule Adhere to the Child Custody Agreement?
The best approaches will address the specific needs of the family involved. Many options have the potential to work as long as the focus remains on what is best for the child. A child does not need to have the exact same routine in both homes, but maintaining a sense of consistency with their schedule can provide the sense of stability that greatly benefits them. Some ways to solve child custody issues include:
Work Together: The best way for parents to support their child is to set aside their differences and their personal preferences. It is important to construct a plan that suits the needs of the child.
Meet Regularly: Employees with changing hours typically receive their schedules weeks or months in advance. According to when the work schedule becomes available, both parents should touch base about the upcoming calendar.
Be Flexible: Some parents with non-traditional jobs may experience fluctuations in their employment, like a construction worker who receives overtime. In this case, parents may benefit from having one plan for the busy season and another for periods with more downtime.
Should I Adjust My Living Arrangement?
The easiest way for parents to share custody is for the family to live close by one another. If both parents’ homes are in the same school district, for example, the task of getting the children to school is less complicated than it would be if the homes were further apart. If the school schedule can be accommodated from either home, the prospect of overnights at the non-residential parent’s house becomes a viable option. Managing overnights around work schedules is more likely to be found acceptable by the court if the arrangement can be handled with little disruption in the child’s life.
Baltimore County Child Custody Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Divorced Parents Manage Shared Custody Arrangements
When it comes to negotiating a workable child custody arrangement, parents who work non-traditional schedules have options. You have the right to tailor your custody agreement according to your family’s circumstances. A Baltimore County child custody lawyer at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can help you with your child custody arrangement. Contact us online or call us at 443-589-0150 for a free consultation. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.