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Do you need to factor third-party time into your parenting plan?

You and your ex will be the ones who spend the most time with your children. There's no doubt about that. As such, the primary purpose of your parenting plan is to decide how you and your ex will divide the time with your kids between one another. An important way to ensure this division is fair involves taking into account third-party time.

Third-party time refers to the time during the week when your child isn't with you or your ex. This could be the time your child spends in school, at day care or with a grandparent or aunt who regularly takes care of the child.

Why is it important to consider third-party time in your parenting plan?

It's important to factor time spent with third parties into the parenting plan because it will reveal how much time the parents actually get to spend with the children. For example, imagine your ex has the kids every Sunday, but that's when the children attend Sunday school for half the day. The third-party time on Sunday eats up a lot of parent's time with the children.

By calculating third-party time at school during the week, for example, we realize that on a typical school day, the children will spend about an hour with the parent in the morning getting ready for school, then -- if the parents pick up the children from their afterschool program at 6 p.m. -- they get another three hours with the children before bed. This means that there is a big difference between having the children on a typical Monday versus a typical Saturday.

Make sure your parenting plan is fair

As you can see, when considering third-party time spent at school, a typical 70-30 or 60-40 parenting time split -- in reality -- could be closer to a 50-50 split. Therefore, it's important that you make sure you factor this time into your parenting plan so that it treats both parents fairly.

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