Custody and First Responders / by Cassandra Hearn

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The end of a relationship is never easy, no matter if you spent a few weeks or decades together with a person.  When you share children with your former partner, it becomes even more complicated.  Both parents will have a particular schedule in mind as to what is best for the child and what would best suit the family’s needs.   When both parents have typical nine to five day jobs, the schedules can often be worked out without too much complication.  However, when one parent is a first responder, this can become a bit more complicated.

In most situations, first responders have unusual schedules.  They may work overnight, have a few days on and then a few days off, or a wide variety of other scheduling quirks. Whereas a week to week parenting schedule may work fine for parents with day jobs, this would clearly not work for these types of first responders.  Parents need to work together closely to examine the first responder’s schedule and also consider the needs of the child.  For example, the first responder may work for 72 hours in a row, but then have four days off.  While it would be theoretically possible for the first responder to have the child for those four days, it may not benefit the child to go back and forth between the houses every few days.  This is especially true if the child is already in school. 

If the parent has times when he or she is “on call,” this can also present a difficulty.  In those situations, there is no reason that the child cannot spend time with that parent as long as he or she has not been called into work.  The reality is, however, that the parent could be called in at any time.  Parents should consider carefully their options in this regard.  One option is to agree that the other parent will always be on hand during the on call times in case the first responder is called into work and needs to drop off the child.  If the first responder has remarried or has a suitable live in roommate, it would also be possible for that person to be responsible for watching the child until the first responder returns.  Essentially, it is important for the parents to keep flexibility in mind when one parent is a first responder.

Call us today for a consultation.  We can talk with you about your child and what custody schedule would best fit your needs.