Shared Custody Schedules for Young Children
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules and parenting plans. You make each part of your schedule, and then you can print your calendar and plan.
A shared custody schedule for young children determines where your children will be at any time on any given day, whether it's with you, the other parent or a third party such as school or day care.
A detailed custody schedule is predictable and easy to read, eliminating confusion and miscommunication between parents. A shared custody schedule should also be structured with the children's needs in mind, rather than putting the desires of the parents first.
Divorce can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in children of all ages. Young children don't have a well-developed concept of time, and therefore a custody schedule that puts them in two different homes often feels overwhelming and scary.
As parents, you must create a shared custody schedule that preserves the well-being and security that your young children need as they experience the changes that divorce brings.
Both parents are an important part of a young child's life, and a successful shared custody schedule should provide plenty of opportunities for parents to participate in the key aspects of their children's activities.
The best shared custody schedules for young children preserve as much of their current routine as possible. Because so many changes are occurring, it's important to create a schedule that is still familiar to the children.
There is no single shared custody schedule that can be applied across the board to families. However, there are certain elements that the best shared custody schedules have in common.
Children need a shared custody schedule that meet certain needs:
- Creates residential arrangements that are specific and predictable
- Keeps changes to a minimum
- Allows time to build healthy relationships with each parent
- Protects them from stressful or unnecessary transitions
- Avoids exposure to any parental conflict
- Reassures them of continual love and care from both parents
Your shared custody schedule should never introduce big changes suddenly. Instead, introduce new elements gradually over time. Children do better with changes when they are allowed to adjust on their own timetable.
You and the other parent can create a shared custody schedule that is clear and understandable for your young children. Custody X Change software can help you negotiate visitation times and then create a visual calendar that is color coded for clarity.
If your shared custody schedule for young children is not working well, you and the other parent should revise it to better meet your children's needs. Custody X Change software makes it easy to revise your existing custody schedules.
Among the reasons you may feel your current custody schedule is not working is that your children don't appear to be adjusting well. While a certain amount of resistance to transitions is normal in young children, be aware of significant signals your children are sending.
Some signs that may signal too much stress in young children include:
- Resistance to small changes in routines
- Excessive temper tantrums
- Increasing irritability or whining
- Heightened anxiety and fear
- Suddenly angry and aggressive
- Intense sadness and lethargy
- Problems with friends
- Frequent headaches or stomachaches
- Trouble at school with behavior or grades
- Episodes of lying or stealing
Once you and the other parent have determined a normal weekly schedule for your young children, you must incorporate time for holidays and where the children will spend them. Holiday schedules should come first over regularly scheduled parenting time.
Consider family traditions and how the children have celebrated them in the past when deciding about holidays in your shared custody schedule. Religious beliefs and extended family member participation are other factors to consider.
It's a good idea to keep as many familiar traditions and activities as possible while your children adjust to the changes, especially during the first few years after your divorce.
Another issue to discuss when determining how holidays will be shared is how far apart you and the other parent are living. This makes a difference in negotiating how and where you will transfer the children to each other.
Remember that holidays should be joyful and relaxing for young children, so develop a custody schedule that will maximize your children's happiness rather than satisfy your own desires. Custody X Change offers many suggestions on effective ways to include holidays into your shared custody schedule for young children.
In your shared custody schedule for young children, vacations should be set up based on the children's age and temperament, the vacation destination, the level of care each parent can and does provide and the length of the vacation.
Vacations are an excellent time for families to build memories and for children to spend one-on-one time with each parent outside their normal environments. Encourage annual vacation time with each parent as long as it benefits your young children.
Very young children, from ages 1 to 4, should not be away from either parent for more than a few days, according to child development experts. Children who are 4 to 6 years old may do fine with up to a week apart, depending on previous separations. As parents, you must evaluate each young child's ability to handle extended vacations.
Here are some tips that can lead to more successful vacations:
- Communicate vacation plans to the other parent well in advance
- Avoid vacations that run over holidays assigned to the other parent
- Don't take children out of school for vacation time unless both parents agree
- Provide regular times for children to call the absent parent while vacationing
- Plan on some downtime after the vacation to help kids adjust to normal life again
Custody X Change software makes it easy to add vacation time into your regular shared custody schedule. You can even upload revised calendars to your mobile devices so that you and the other parent clearly understand when vacation times begin and end.
The more you and the other parent can agree on concerning a shared custody schedule for your young children, the less time your attorneys must spend on the subject.
When you and the other parent divorce, there are many things you won't agree on. Attorneys must negotiate those topics for you, billing you for their time. Whatever you and the other parent can agree on outside of your attorney's office reduces the time he or she spends on your behalf.
Custody X Change software allows parents to sit down together and work out a shared custody schedule as well as a parenting plan. It allows you to determine what areas you agree on and summarizes what areas you can't.
Custody X Change software provides templates for parenting plans and custody schedules that will trigger conversations with the other parent in determining what it takes to effectively parent your young children together even though you live apart.