If you are considering divorce or are in the process of a divorce, you will know that you and the other party will soon be ex-spouses, but you will never be ex-parents. Like most parents, it is likely also important for you and your ex to maintain loving parent-child relationships with your kids after your divorce. Drafting parenting plans is not a simple task of dividing the days and the holidays equally. Parents must consider the age of each child, his or her psychological needs and temperament.
Children can suffer psychological damage and parents must consider their developmental patterns from birth through to their teenage years.
Babies to toddlers under 3 years
If you have an infant, the little one must spend as much time as possible with the primary caregiver. Babies must get ample time to form bonds with both the parents if they are together, and the mother if they are divorced. Being separated from the primary caregiver for more than a few hours at a time can be traumatic for a baby. When your child starts walking and talking, frequent short visits will be suitable.
Toddlers to pre-school
At this stage, your little one can express his or her needs, and overnight visits may be suitable. However, you must let the child lead you as to the length of time he or she is happy to be away.
Your child will likely start building relationships with friends and develop skills and competence with tasks, such as dressing, bathing and more. His or her connection with friends is important, and it may be wise for the other parent to arrange visits in the community where the child feels comfortable.
Academic, artistic and athletic skills are now developing, and your child's activities in the community will be his or her primary concern. Peer approval will be important, and you may want to discuss visitation plans before confirming with the other parent.
Despite your undying love for your child, this period will test you on every level. Your teenager will likely believe he or she knows all and you know nothing. Your child will want to have input in the parenting arrangements, and you may get the impression that friends are more important than parents. However, with you and your ex-spouse's continued presence and support through the years, your child will know right from wrong, and he or she will be well-prepared for adulthood - thanks to well-planned parenting that ensured the presence of both you and the other parent through the years.
So, just be strong until your child is 18 and then you can look back with proud content.
If you have more than one child and have the prospect of drafting parenting plans to accommodate each child's age, you might feel overwhelmed. However, you may find comfort in knowing that help is available. An experienced family law attorney can provide valuable input and may have access to family law mediators and child professionals who can provide support and guidance throughout the drafting of visitation plans and more.