Does being a shift worker have a negative effect on your right to see the children? Does working irregular hours mean you will hardly see the kids? No, it should not. The care arrangement or visitation arrangement should be bases on the best interests of the children and it should also take in account the interests of the parents. So yes, a shift worker can have a good visitation arrangement.
Should the care arrangement be fixed and straight forward, or flexible and adjusted to the fireman’s work schedule? It might depend on the age of the children. Or whether they have special needs. Kids with autism might need a fixed schedule. The distance between the parent’s houses might be a factor of influence. Of course it can be very difficult for the other parent to adjust to the work schedule of the person that you are no longer sharing your life with. But it could also be in the best interest of the child to have irregular, but frequent contact.
In the Netherlands
In the Netherlands courts seem to prefer verry simple care arrangements, that can be written down in just a few sentences. The less, the better, it seems. This is considered to be in the best interest of the child. It should be clear for a child where it will stay the next day or the next week. Also, a child can have a busy schedule with school, sports and other activities. It could be in the best interest of the child that the care arrangement does not interfere with those activities.
Off course, also the interests of the other parent are taken into account. The other parent might also wish for a very simple arrangement. It wil enable the other parent to make his or hers own plans for work, holidays etcetera. Maybe the other parent is busy during weekdays and wants to spend time with the children during the weekend as well. He or she may not like having to adjust to the work schedule of the ex partner.
U.S. shiftworkers schedule
In U.S. case law you will find the ‘fireworkers schedule’ or the ‘shiftworkers schedule’. This means that the care arrangement is indead adjusted to the work schedule. This can be considered in the best interest of the child, if it is the only way or the best way to ‘encourage frequent contact between a child and each parent for periods of possession that optimize the development of a close and continuing relationship between each parent and child’, for instance.
A care arrangement based on the work schedule of a fireman cannot be written down in just a few words. The law firm of Bryan Fagen (Texas, U.S.) has written a blog on this subject. He gives a few good examples of how a fireworkers schedule can be put into words in either an agreement between the parents or in a court decision.
It seems fair to adjust the care arrangement to the work schedule of the fireman or other shift worker. Especially when this parent was already a shift worker during the relationship. People can’t just change their carreers. Especially after an expencive divorce. Children can’t choose their parents careers and they just want to see both their parents and have good relationships with both their parents.