Visitation schedules for firefighters (or anyone who works 24-hours on/48-hours off)

One can always tell when an attorney has failed to really focus on his or her client when a parent who works a 24-hours on/48-hours off work schedule ends up with an every-other-weekend visitation schedule. Such visitation schedules doom such workers to parenting failure.

The every-other-weekend visitation schedule is predicated on the idea that both parents either do not work weekends, have the same work schedule every other weekend, or have an irregular weekend work schedule. The goal is to give both parents equal quality time with the child during times when the child does not have school obligations and responsibilities.

However for parents who work a 24-hours on/48-hours off work schedule, a bi-weekly visitation schedule is suboptimal. Such parents have a regular weekend work schedule but it cycles every three, rather than every two, weeks. In an every-other-weekend schedule, they will be working at least one twenty-four hour period in two-thirds of the weekends they get and will not be working at all in half the weekends they don’t get.

For such workers, a schedule that cycles every three weeks makes better sense. Rather than giving them the whole weekend half the time, they are better off getting the whole weekend a third of the time and half the weekend either the other third or two-thirds of the time (depending upon how generous the other parent is and on whether the other parent has work responsibilities in which having the whole weekend every third week interferes with his or her own work schedule).

Ideally the parent who works 24-on/48-off can get a day adjoining his or her half weekend. For example, the weekends that parent returns to work on Saturday, that parent could get from Thursday to Saturday. For the weekends that parent returns to work on Tuesday, that parent could get from Sunday to Tuesday. This gives the parent a school day that adjoins the weekend but on a school day in which that parent does not work.

For any parent whose work schedule operates on a 21-day cycle, a visitation schedule that operates on a 21-day schedule is much more conducive to exercising meaningful time with the child. Failing to recognize that such parents cannot meet the responsibilities of an every-other-weekend visitation schedule is a failure of lawyering.

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