We have many clients who don’t work 9-5 jobs, like shift workers or military personnel. It’s our job to find a schedule that works for you. Shift work and military deployments do not automatically ensure that your children will stay with the other party. Many clients who work shift work or are military, reserves, and active duty, immediately assume that the other party will be granted primary physical custody of the children. While this may have been the case years ago, many courts are leaning toward shared physical custody.
Shared physical custody does not necessarily mean fifty-fifty custody. In fact, in many cases, it is not. Every case is different and every case requires its own custodial schedule. There are several ways to deal with the odd hours or changes in your work schedule.
If you can settle your case outside of court, you have the most flexibility with regard to the custodial schedule. In any agreement, your attorney should try their best to ensure that every possible scenario is accounted for. Rotating shift work may require the attorney to try to include a rotating custodial schedule. Set shift work may have a schedule based off the shift you are on. Your attorney should try to factor in military deployments and drill weekends. The attorney should also try to include a catchall provision that considers your changing schedule and allows for the parties to reschedule custodial time if necessary, but that the rescheduling must allow you to have the same amount of time with your children as before. In other words, the schedule may change, but your time with your children won’t.
It is more difficult to get such a detailed order from the court, but not impossible. The opposing party must show that it is not in the best interest of your children to share physical custody. If the opposing party fails to meet that burden, we must then show the court the schedule that we believe is in your children’s best interests. We do this through our complaint or answer as well as testimony. We set forth your work schedule, her work schedule, and specifically ask the Court for a specific schedule that is in the best interest of your children. In instances where the Court asks your attorney to prepare an order, she can include as detailed a schedule as if she were writing an agreement. In instances where the Court issues an order, we will deal with whatever he or she orders. If it is not a workable schedule, we can attempt to remedy that by filing a motion with the Court, setting forth the reasons the schedule doesn’t work, and offering a schedule that does.
Bottom line, don’t give up before you even begin by assuming that you are not entitled to time with your children because of your work schedule. Your children are just as much yours as they are the other parents. If you are having concerns regarding custodial schedules, call our office at (334) 819-4810. We would be happy to help you figure out the best options for your schedule.