If you are going through a divorce, you probably already understand what a parenting plan is and how it works to create a schedule between you and your ex-spouse. When children are at their youngest, it is always a good idea to keep separation time from the mother and father as small as possible. The courts agree that it is a good idea to keep children in both of their parent’s lives, preferably in equal measures if the case calls for it. We will allow you to understand the considerations for your child’s age and what you should include in your parenting plan.
Considerations for Infants to 3 Years Old
- You must consider the child’s degree of attachment, which is how much trust and bonding they have with their parents. If one parent has not seen the child much between these years, then they should be introduced gradually, as to not cause the child anxiety over the meetings.
- A parent who is less attached should spend alone time caring for the child to build that trust once more.
- The custodial parent must be forthcoming about diet, medications, daily routine, and much more.
- The child should be granted security items to go along with them to the other parent’s home. The primary parent should deliver the child to the other parent as a way to feel security.
3 Years Old to 5 Years Old
- The child is now in preschool years, so they should have consistent, predictable, and structured schedules.
- Children will understand that things are different with each parent, and should understand the rule for both homes.
- Preschool age children can spend overnights at a parent’s house. However, they should not be kept an entire week – this should be split up accordingly, to offer them stability.
- Children should not be exposed to parental conflict whatsoever at this age, as they are prone to experience anxiety.
- If a child cries when they are being picked up by the other parent, this is normal for this age range and should not be seen as a problem between the parent and the child.
6 Years Old to 11 Years Old
- Parents should be consistent with rules, structure, and discipline in regards to their child.
- Exchanges should be quick to reduce transition issues.
- Parents should only schedule events when they understand what the other parent’s schedule looks like.
- When there are changes in the schedule, this must be communicated.
12 Years Old to 18 Years Old
- Parents should be sensitive to the feelings of children within this age range, as a divorce can be embarrassing or incite feelings of anger. Ongoing contact between parents must be encouraged.
- Adolescents have activities planned in their lives already in many cases, so a rigid schedule should not be created for them to follow.
- Even if the child’s schedule conflicts with parenting time, activities should be encouraged.
- At these ages, parents can consult their children to help consider what works for their parenting plan.
- Being flexible and able to communicate is best at this age.
- Parents should never lean on their children at this age for emotional support. They are not adults and these are problems best solved through the adults.
Now that you understand what works best for each age, you can apply it to your parenting plan with your own insight. Sometimes, speaking to the other spouse and your child can help you reach the best agreement. Call us today if you need help with your parenting plan.