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Specialty tag(s): Parenting Schedules, Child Custody

5 Ways to Achieve a Sustainable Possession Schedule for First Responders

Sarah Aminzadeh Milinsky | June 26, 2023

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Anyone going through a divorce or custody suit has likely heard of the Standard Possession Order. However, the Standard Possession Order is not feasible for first responders due to their non-traditional schedule. The unpredictable and long work hours of a first responder require a customized possession schedule that meets the needs of everyone involved.

In her insightful blog post, Sarah Milinsky shares five effective strategies for establishing a sustainable possession schedule tailored to the unique needs of first responders. Drawing from her extensive personal experience and deep understanding of unconventional first-responder schedules, Sarah brings a valuable perspective. As the spouse of a dedicated night-shift police officer, the sister-in-law of a paramedic, and a close friend to a firefighter, she is well-versed in the nuances of unconventional first-responder schedules.

1. Hire an attorney who is familiar with first responder schedules.

The shift schedules of first responders can be far from simple. Depending on the career and the department, a first responder’s work schedule requires a customized possession order that can accommodate the uncertainty that comes with it. Hiring an attorney who is familiar with the various shift schedules for the different types of first responders is crucial in achieving a seamless and sustainable possession schedule that meets the needs of your child(ren).

2. Learn about the benefits of the Collaborative Divorce process.

The Collaborative Divorce process is a dispute resolution process that enables parents to retain control over the outcome of their case by committing to resolve their issues outside of court. For those who need customized possession schedules, the Collaborative Divorce process is especially advantageous because judges are limited by the Texas Family Code, which includes the Standard Possession Order. By choosing the Collaborative Divorce process, parents who are first responders do not have to rely on judges for answers and instead can have the option to create tailor-made custody solutions that are outside the Texas Family Code.

3. Appoint a parenting coordinator or parenting facilitator.

Parenting coordinators and parenting facilitators are neutral third parties that assist parents with developing strategies to foster collaborative co-parenting. Specifically, they can help parents work through adjustments and/or modifications to possession schedules, thereby avoiding the Court’s involvement. Shift schedules for first responders are always changing. In fact, it’s likely that the schedule a first responder has today will be completely different than what he or she will have in five years. Having a parenting coordinator or facilitator to “call on” when circumstances change will promote open communication between the other parent as well as keep the parties out of the courtroom when the possession schedule needs modifying.

4. Engage in mediation.

Mediation is a formal settlement process where an impartial mediator facilitates negotiations, and the parents each retain lawyers to advise them during the divorce mediation. Similar to a parenting coordinator or parenting facilitator, a mediator can assist parents in modifying a possession schedule to accommodate the changing work schedules of a first responder. By using a mediator, the parents can reach a resolution that is fully customized without the need for Court intervention.

5. Utilize a shared calendar with the other parent.

Common possession schedules, such as the Standard Possession Order, can be difficult to keep track of as it is. But when one parent is a first responder with a complicated work schedule that changes often, it is imperative that the parents are on the same page about where the child(ren) will be sleeping each night. Having a shared co-parenting calendar that follows the first-responder parent’s work schedule and the customized possession schedule is crucial to achieving seamless co-parenting. A shared calendar helps eliminate uncertainty for the other parent and prevent misunderstandings.

By implementing these tips, parents can achieve a sustainable possession schedule that takes into account the unique challenges faced by first responders, ensuring the well-being of everyone involved.

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An advocate for problem-solving approaches, including Collaborative Divorce, Sarah uses creativity and interest-based negotiations to resolve family law and divorce matters without unnecessary cost and conflict. Helping clients act with logic rather than emotion to achieve their goals is a primary emphasis in her practice. 

If you have questions about customized possession schedules or want to learn more about effective parenting calendars for “non-traditional” work schedules, please contact Sarah Aminzadeh Milinsky at 214-974-8296.

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