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Your Child’s Time with You Is Determined by the Residential Schedule
By law, parents in Washington who are not living together are entitled to have a residential schedule for their children. The residential schedule establishes with whom the child shall reside at any given time. It is supposed to cover every contingency, including holidays, school vacations, and special occasions such as the child’s birthday.
The traditional residential schedule makes Mom the primary residential parent and places the Child with Dad every other weekend, half the holidays, maybe once a week on the alternating weeks, and maybe two or three weeks every summer.
Many courts will tend to enter some kind of plan that gives Dad more time than every other weekend, but less than one week on and one week off. For example, Dad gets alternating weekends, but the “weekend” ends on Tuesday morning when school starts, rather than Sunday evening or Monday morning.
The goal of the residential schedule should be simplicity, predictability, and minimal amount of time shuttling the Child back and forth. An uninterrupted pattern of alternating weekends or alternating weeks serves these goals. Complicated schedules based on schedule X during week 1 and schedule Y during week 2 do not.
If the parents cannot get along, then an additional goal of the residential schedule is to minimize contact between the parents. In light of this goal, my opinion is that all transitions should be at school, or at least in public. For example, Dad picks up the Child after school on Friday and returns the Child to school Monday morning. Or, for example, Dad picks up the Child after his baseball game.