A divorce can be challenging on multiple levels, especially when creating a parenting time schedule for your child.
Knowing what types of schedules are appropriate given a child’s developmental stage can help minimize problems and make for an outcome that serves your child’s best interests.
Infants and toddlers
Parenting time schedules can be the most complicated when a child is still an infant or just a toddler. Kids in this age group typically develop close or trusting connections with their caregivers, and they can experience separation anxiety when they’re apart. It can be detrimental if they spend extended periods away from their primary caretaker(s).
It’s not uncommon for children this age to have attachment issues or to exhibit regressive or depressive symptoms the longer they spend away from their primary caregiver. You can often serve the child’s best interests by keeping time with a non-primary caregiver brief, at least at first.
Preschoolers and kindergarteners
Children of this age often relate more to a parent of the same sex, so you should keep a close eye on whether this factor applies to your child and his/her/their comfort level. Adjust the parenting time schedule if necessary.
Furthermore, a child’s sense of independence and ability to express themselves can bloom during toddler years. These attributes allow children to better cope with being away from their primary caregiver, making this period an ideal opportunity to increase parenting time for the other parent, including introducing overnight visits. You can start with short stays to begin with, then increase the time depending on your child’s comfort level.
As a child ages, their social circle expands and their school activities increase. It will be important for both parents to consider the child’s autonomy and need for social growth and independence when determining a parenting time schedule that best serves the child’s best interests. Children in high school are often given the authority to make their own decisions about which parent they will spend time with, regardless what an earlier parenting time schedule might provide.
Creating a parenting time schedule that works
A child custody attorney will likely want to know more about your child’s personality, stage of development, and any special needs before devising a parenting time plan for you to present to your child’s other parent.
While it may not be easy to come to an agreement, it helps when everyone keeps the child’s best interests and developmental needs in mind.