Estranged Pennsylvania parents usually pursue a 50/50 equal division of physical child custody. After a divorce, this may take the form of the every-other-week schedule. Children live with one parent for a week and then switch to the other parental household the next week. However, younger children may not thrive on such a schedule. The week-long separation from the other parent might produce anxiety or at least unhappiness. Parental work schedules might also make child care arrangements difficult when they are only needed every other week.

To avoid these problems, parents might prefer to divide their shared custody into shorter parenting segments. The 2-2-3 schedule places children with one parent for two days, switches to the second parent for two days and then returns children to the first parent for three days. This alternative schedule limits child separation from both parents and enables weekly child care arrangements. The 3-4-4-3 alternative schedule takes a similar approach but extends stays slightly.

For some parents, a 60/40 split of parenting time works better. Children still get regular and ongoing contact with both parents. Schedules made with the 60/40 custody schedule could have children with a parent for four weekdays and with the other parent for long three-day weekends.

A parent in the process of creating a shared custody agreement must factor in the physical, social and emotional needs of children. Legal advice may also contribute to this process. An attorney might aid a parent who needs to assert rights in the face of a hostile parent who wants to limit access to children. Even in the absence of hostility, legal support may introduce a parent to co-parenting strategies that have worked for others.