If you and your ex-partner are on good terms, you may want to consider a non-traditional joint custody arrangement. Non-traditional arrangements allow you to work with your ex to create an arrangement that's best for your child and that works for both of you. If you're considering a non-traditional custody arrangement, consider the three mentioned below.
Keep the Marital Home and "Nest"
Nesting is an unconventional child custody arrangement, but when done right, it provides your children with the greatest amount of stability.
Essentially, nesting is an arrangement where each parent will take turns living in the marital home with the children. So, for example, one parent would live with the children for one week, and then they'd leave and the other parent would take over for the next week and so on. During the "off" weeks, the parent will live on their own. While this may seem expensive, if both parents can afford it, it's not a bad arrangement in terms of stability – your children will always have one home.
Rent or Buy Homes In the Same Neighborhood
If you'd like your child's schedule to stay as uninterrupted as possible, consider renting or buying homes in the same neighborhood so your child can see each parent each day.
While this isn't always financially or logistically possible, it keeps travel time down when it comes to alternating custody, and it also means that each parent can foster a relationship with their child even if it's not their parenting time.
Give One Parent Primary Custody, but Allow for Open Visitation
If one parent works unusual shifts, or if one parent can provide the child with more stability, consider giving the parent with the most stability primary custody but allowing the non-custodial parent to have open visitation.
This agreement will only work if the ex-partners get along and only when boundaries are laid out in the beginning and followed. For example, the non-custodial parent would have to provide the primary parent with some sort of notice before dropping in, so as not to disrupt the child's schedule too much. The amount of notice required will depend on each partner's preference as well as your child's schedule. For example, if your child is not involved in any after-school activities or sports, and you don't mind the other parent taking the child for impromptu sleepovers, then 24 hours notice may be enough for you. For others, 48 hours or more may be the better option.
Even if you and your ex-partner are on good terms, it's always a good idea to have any custody arrangements made formal. To learn more about custody arrangement options, consult with a family law attorney such as J. Scott Braden.