Placement Issues for a Baby

Updated on October 09, 2011
A.K. asks from Sun Prairie, WI
14 answers

I have a 5 year old and 9 month old and I am going thru a divorce. We are having a hard time coming to terms on placement. He wants 50/50 and I dont think its healthy for my kids to go more then 2 nights without seeing me, especially when they are used to me being their primary care giver. Any ideas or suggestions? I want what is best for my kids and they are very attatched to me. I offered 45/55, cause that would make it no more then 2 nights away from me in a row, but he won't agree to it. So as of right now I am going to leave it up to the courts.

Also, what kind of schedules have others been given with such young children when left up to the courts?

Thank you for your help and understanding in this very difficult time and decision for my family.

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answers from Rochester on

From a teacher's perspective, during the school week it is so much easier for the kids if they are in just one home during the week. I have a student who goes to a different parent's home on Wednesdays. I can tell which parent he is with just from his behaviors. One parent is more stict with bedtimes and screen time. That parent is also more organized. When my student is with that parent he gets to school on time, has eaten breakfast, has all of his homework and supplies for the day, and will be attentive and not fall asleep in class. With the other parent, that is not the case. That is an extreme example, but I see it to lesser degrees with other students who move between homes during the week. Just something that I have noticed. In the best interest of the kids, I think it is something to keep in mind.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

My kids were 7 & 9 when I got a divorce. We went 50/50. But the kids didn't want to spend much time away from me at a time. So our schedule was:
Sunday night - Mom
Monday night - Dad
Tuesday night - Mom
Wednesday night - Grandma's (they had always done this)
Thursday night - Dad
Friday night - Mom
Saturday night - Dad

They stayed at Grandma's during the day while we both worked. I would typically have the kids most of the day on Saturday and then pick them up Sunday morning for church and have them all day.

This all changed when their dad got remarried. I took him back to court and received full custody. Then he only saw them on Wednesday nights and every other weekend. As the kids got older, and he got divorced, we were more relaxed with visitation, but we lived very close to each other.

My kids are now 19 & 17. They both tell me that it was very confusing when we first divorced, they felt like they didn't really have a home, always being moved around. But they don't know how we could have changed things either.

Good luck as you are going through this very difficult time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I'd fight for him having them every other weekend and NOT spending the night. As you said - YOU, not he - is the primary caregiver and it would be extremely detrimental and hurtful to the children to spend the night away from Mommy or more than 14 hours away from you.

I hope you have a lawyer... because courts don't care about Mom's rights anymore like they used to, nor do they have the child's best interest at heart.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

It's likely he just wants 50/50 for tax or child support reasons. That's the only reasonable explanation for why 45/55 is not good enough. I agree with the first poster, Sandy L- ask for a lot more, even more than what you expect so that you can offer more time if things are going well, but also so that when an agreement is reached, you end up with at least what what you want. I know it's crude, but maybe think of it like making an offer on a house. Expect a counter-offer. You don't lead with your maximum offer. Sorry you have to go through this, best of luck to you...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Find out what the norm is for your area. My friend did not have overnights with her daughter's father until the child was over a year old. What works for the baby may not work for the 5 yr old and vice versa. Until the baby is older, you may need to either accommodate different daytime visits or allow the 5 yr old to visit without the baby.

You should also bear in mind school for the children. If the 5 yr old is not in school yet, next fall is not that far away. I personally feel that every couple of nights is disruptive to children and it might be better to do 1/2 weeks or every other week, as hard as it is for you. Try to prevent your kids from feeling like they live out of bags. While it can be difficult to change custody later, you can be more lax later if the situation allows. My stepkids would often have 3 day weekends with their mom, for example. I do agree to ask for more now (you are the primary caregiver and they are young) and then expect to adjust it in time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

I know because of a friend if you are breastfeeding the 9 month old ... well she got it so he could have the baby a maximum of 2 hours a week till she was 2. That was due to breastfeeding though. I agree that being fair to him is important.... NOT in my opinion as important as being fair to the children. If they rely on you as much as you say I'd offer him the standard daddy contract of he can have them two nights a week on the weekend. Heck most get school age children every other weekend at that. I mean the 5 year old is in school or will be soon and needs just due to her studies to be in a stable situation and a stable home. I don't see how bouncing around all week is in her their best interest. I guess I just never understood that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My husband's best friend and his ex-wife recently went through a divorce. DH's friend very much wanted to stay involved with his kids, and the custody agreement that the courts handed down was as follows: Sunday 6pm - Wednesday 9am: Dad. Wednesday 9am - Friday 5pm: Mom. Friday 5pm - Sunday 6pm: alternates parents every weekend. They have been doing this for about 2 years (the kids are now 5 and 9) and it has been working well for all parties. Of course it's hard because both parents would rather have 100% custody, but this way at least both parents are involved and active with the kids, and there's a minimum of shuffling the kids around, which is best for them. Anyhow, I'm sorry that you're going through this, but it's good that your ex wants to stay involved (a lot of dads don't). I wish you the best.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I suggest being very tight with your time asking for a lot more. you can always be generous and give him more time than he is awarded as long as things are going well and kids are happy and sleeping well at his place but this would give you more control if kids have a hard time adjusting,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

We divorced when our daughter was 4 1/2. We set up this schedule which we still follow five years later where the longest she is away from either of us is three nights:

I have my daughter with me:
Week 1: Sunday, Mon, Tues, Fri, Sat
Week 2: Tues, Wed

We exchange on Sundays mid to late afternoon either at his house or at her swimming lessons.

This schedule would not work for everyone. We live relatively close to each other. She takes the bus to school from her Dad's on his days, I drive her to school on my days. She takes the school bus home to Dad's every day and on my days I either pick her up from his house, or he brings her to her karate class and I pick her up there.

Her Dad is retired and so is home to be with her after school each day. We have to be careful that her school things stay in her backpack, that her karate uniform and equip are at the correct house on the right days. If either of us forgets something, we are responsible for bringing it where it needs to be. We talk very often and see each other often because of this schedule, which some co-parents might like and some would not be willing to do.

A nine-month old, I believe, would need to be with mom more than dad. So you might have two different schedules until it makes sense to combine them into one. It's best if the two of you can agree instead of letting the court decide.



answers from Janesville-Beloit on

I would really try to work it out without the courts...They will not treat you as individuals or look very closley at the situation. Family courts are very busy and you will leave frustrated and feeling unheard. Whatever the courts decide you must abide by and neither you nor your ex will be happy!

Find someone to watch your kids and really talk to your ex with an open mind and thinking only of the children...this is very difficult even though you may think you are doing that now. If you need to get a third party involved, I suggest a family therapist before a mediator. I am not against mediators, I just think their ultimate goal is to get you to an agreement and feelings and fears don't really get talked about or heard. If you can get certain things put in your agreement like "first right of refusal", if your ex needs a babysitter or is unable to have the kids on his given day, you get to care for them if you are able. If it is your agreement you can get very detailed and be mindful of things that may come up in the future.
This is one of the most emotional things you will ever have to deal with. In the end, if the children feel loved and see their parents happy, they will likely grow up just fine. Good luck.


answers from Lincoln on

One of the families at daycare have a schedule that seems confusing at first but it makes a lot of sense. She has MT he has WR and they rotate every other FSS, The weekend they don't get her, they get a date night during that 5 day stretch. Their mediator had recommended it and said it was becoming more common and seems to work. Before that they were doing every other day. Which was very confusing and stressful on her.



answers from Des Moines on

one of my friends has a 3yo and her son goes to his father's i think every weekend or every other weekend, and she has primary custody.



answers from Jackson on

I don't know how it would work for a baby but when my son got divorced recently they did the one week at Mom;s and one week at Dad;s. However, they did it on Monday morning at school dropoff and pickup after school on Monday. It seems to have worked fabulously! The boys were 7, 11, and 13. The youngest had a problem every time his dad had to drop him off during the week with typical Tuesday and Thursday and every other weekend visits. The week on and week off is working wonderfully for everyone!



answers from Redding on

My son was a baby when I went through my divorce. My daughter was 9 years older. She was not his biological child, so there were no orders in place as far as her going with him.
My son went with his father from 5:30pm to 8am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He went with his father every other weekend. On the weekends, my daughter went along as my husband was the father figure in her life. However, it turned into a situation where she was doing most of the caring for the baby. She kept an eye on him, bathed him, dressed him, changed his diapers.
My ex didn't say nice things about me and my daughter decided she didn't like going. There were many times my ex either had to work or go out of town to take care of his father and asked me to keep our son. I never refused. And, I never made him feel guilty.
Well, I did refuse one time. It was Halloween and he found out that I was invited to an adult Halloween party. My daughter was spending the night with a friend after trick or treating and he wanted me to keep my son and stay home.
I'd spent a week on my costume and planning. Had it been my weekend to have my son, I wouldn't have made those plans. Anyway, he just didn't want me going out and I went anyway.

Often, not always, men want more time with their kids and then realize it's a lot more than they bargained for. On paper, I had my son 67% of the time and my ex was constantly wanting it in writing that he had 50/50, but that was for tax and child support purposes only. It was well documented that he didn't always have him when he was supposed to as it was. It wasn't brought up in a derrogatory way, it was just a matter of fact. He was the one changing the schedule and giving up his time, not me.

Because my son was a baby, in mediation, they were opposed to a 50/50 schedule. A week away from either parent was just too much and an every other night thing just logistically would be too hard on a baby. So, we tried the schedule I mentioned, with a review in 6 months. We were welcome to go back sooner if it wasn't working.
My husband moved an hour away, which made things more difficult.
Long story short, we basically had the same schedule until my son was about 14 and my ex got to take him to school on Monday mornings as opposed to bringing him home at 6pm on Sunday nights on his weekends.
My son is 16 now and it's still not 50/50. It never will be. He's old enough now that if he wants to go fishing with his dad on my weekend, I don't say no unless we had prior plans, in which case my son wouldn't even ask.

I just want you to know that things do get easier.
It was so hard for me letting my baby go with his dad, but that's the price of divorce and I was the one who made the divorce decision. My husband left me no choice.
No matter how much animosity there may be, you have to keep in mind what is best for the children. And, they do need time with both parents.
As long as you convey that you understand that to the court, and you convey that you want them to have time with their father but you also recognize it may take time for them to adjust just to you not being married anymore, your main concern is that they have time to adjust to change in increments. They may not feel 50/50 is appropriate.
Some parents successfully do the 50/50 thing (frankly I hate that term because nothing is ever truly 50/50), but sometimes, it just makes the kids feel split in half. That's the worst possible outcome.

I encourage you to buy the book, "My Life Turned Upside Down, But I Turned it Rightside Up" by Mary B. Field.

You and your husband should both read it.
It's for kids, but the message to the parents reading it is pretty powerful.

I wish you the very best.

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