There are times in a case when one parent doesn’t necessarily have it together. This can take many forms; whether they are struggling with addiction, involved with an abusive partner, or currently transient. In one way or another their current circumstances leave them unfit to have the children overnight or for more than a couple hours. However, you may not want to cut the children off from their other parent completely, but you understandably don’t feel comfortable leaving the children with them. So how do you navigate this situation? By implementing a step-up possession schedule.
What is a Step-Up Possession Schedule?
A step-up possession schedule, also known as a “tiered” or “progressive” schedule, is a child custody arrangement that can change as the child gets older and/or other parent meets certain requirements. They are particularly useful for when the other parent is working to clean up their act but needs time to do so. They are also useful for addressing the changing parental needs of children as they grow older.
How Do Step-Up Possession Schedules Work?
Like a standard possession schedule, a step-up possession schedule will be detailed in your court orders. The levels they describe are varied, as they depend on the facts of the case. For example lets say Parent A and Parent B are getting divorced. Parent B is an alcoholic. They love their kids and have never done anything to intentionally hurt them, but they are constantly drinking to a point that it could endanger the children. Parent B recognizes they have a problem and begins taking steps to get help and rectify it. The parents go to mediation and Parent A recognizes that Parent B is trying to fix their issues and agrees to a step-up possession schedule. In this scenario that schedule may look something like this:
- Supervised Possession: Parent B shall have one hour of supervised possession each week until Parent B completes an Alcoholics Anonymous program and passes a breathalyzer tests four times a day for three months.
- Unsupervised Saturday Possession: After completing Step 1, Parent B shall have unsupervised possession of the children every 1st, 3rd, and 5th Saturday from 12 pm to 8 pm provided that they pass a breathalyzer test four times a day for three months. If at anytime Parent B fails a test, Parent B will revert to step one.
- Non-Expanded Standard Possession: After completing Step 2, Parent B shall have possession of the children every 1st, 3rd, and 5th, Friday at 6 pm until to following Sunday at 6 pm. Parent B shall also have possession every Thursday from 6pm until 8pm. Parent B must pass a breathalyzer test four times a day when they have possession of the children for three months. If at anytime Parent B fails a test, Parent B will revert to step two.
- Expanded Standard Possession: After completing Step 3, shall have possession of the children every 1st, 3rd, and 5th, Friday from the time school releases until the following Monday when school resumes. Parent B shall also have possession every Thursday from the time school releases until the following Friday when school resumes. Parent B must pass a breathalyzer test four times a day when they have possession of the children. If at anytime Parent B fails a test, Parent B will revert to step three.
Now it is important to note that this is just a quick example of how a step-up schedule could work in this scenario. The provisions in a real order would be much more detailed and can be more or less restrictive to Parent B depending on the facts of the case. The takeaway is that each level of the schedule requires Parent B to stay on the straight and narrow path to gain more time with their children. It gives them the chance to clean up their act and be a substantial part of their children’s lives or stay exactly how they are risk losing what little time they have.