How do I make a “parenting schedule” with my ex when dealing with oilfield hours?

Many separating and divorcing families in our area face this problem of trying to create a schedule to spend time with their kids, but face the challenge of the unreliability of their work hours in the oilfield service industry.  How can this be overcome?

I like to re-define the phrase “parenting schedule” when we’re talking about the oilfield, as you all know that this phrase can take on a meaning of its own.  I encourage you to think of a “schedule” as something that is based on your own definition.

Traditionally, a schedule may look something like “50/50 alternating weeks with each parent”, or “primary parenting with one parent, and alternating weekends with the other parent”.  At the other end of the spectrum, a schedule could look something like “reasonable access on reasonable notice”, which doesn’t necessarily provide any clear guidance to the parties as to minimum or maximum agreed time – i.e. potential for conflict!!

In the expanded definition of “schedule”, you may want to think outside the box and come up with some formulas for how you will be guaranteed time with your kids – for example:

  • Minimum of 2 weekends each month, with those 2 weekends to be determined no later than the 1st of each month;
  • Minimum of X number of days per month;
  • Reasonable and generous access in conjunction with X parent’s days off, with an acknowledgement that flexibility will be required;
  • Reasonable access on 24 / 48 / etc. hours notice
  • Access to children in priority to 3rd party child care providers
  • Access to children every statutory holiday, etc.

These types of formulas can be very helpful, because they focus on the known rather than the unknown.  You may not know which weekends you’re off, but know that you will have a certain minimum time off; or you may not know which days you will have off, but you will know at least the day before that you have the following day off.  Find some common ground on which you can set your “schedule”.

Do you have any interesting parenting schedule that’s working for you?  Share your stories with me by email.  I want to hear from you!