Understanding Parenting Time Guidelines
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.
Parenting time guidelines include insight, tips or guidance for divorcing parents in creating a parenting plan and visitation schedule. You can access all kinds of documents with parenting time guidelines online or through your local family court.
When you and the other parent begin divorce proceedings, you must recognize that it is in your children's best interests to have as much quality contact with both of you as possible. Both of you play an important role in your children's lives.
The phrase "parenting time" is becoming the more accepted way to refer to visitations, because it highlights the concept that the non-custodial parent does more than visit--he or she continues to play a key role in their children's lives.
However, you may hear terms like "custody schedule" or "visitation schedule" that mean the same thing.
Parenting time guidelines provide you and the other parent with examples of what is important in a visitation schedule. Any example should be modified to fit the unique needs and circumstances of your family.
These guidelines also help you to understand significant child development issues and how a parenting time schedule can affect your children..
The goal of parenting time guidelines are to help parents, family court judges and mediators to develop appropriate parenting plans and visitation schedules for children of divorce.
Here are some of the ideas that parenting time guidelines highlight:
- Children who live away from one parent need help in maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship
- Children's ages, desires and ability to cope with parenting time change as the child matures
- Parents should always put their children's best interests first
- Parents must agree to be flexible when create parenting time agreements
- Parents must tailor parenting time to best address the unique needs of their children
When you sit down to create parenting time documents, use Custody X Change software to take advantage of the detailed templates. You can customize them to fit your personal needs.
Parenting time guidelines primarily focus on what is developmentally appropriate for the children, as well as how parents can provide a stable environment that fosters physical and emotional well-being.
You and the other parent must recognize your children's basic needs:
Help them know that your decision to separate apart is not their fault
Help them develop meaningful relationships with each parent
Help them maintain that relationship and expect continuing care and guidance from each parent
Help them be free from conflicts between you and the other parent
Help them never have to choose a side with either you or the other parent
Help them financially as agreed upon in your parenting plan
Help them feel physically safe with each parent
Help them thrive in adequately supervised care with stable, consistent and responsible parents
Your parenting time agreement can satisfy all these child development issues, but its up to you and the other parent to execute the things you agreed on. Your children deserve two involved, cooperative parents, even if you are no longer together.
Formal parenting time guidelines are drafted by each state that sets out what the minimum requirements are for a healthy parent-child relationship, plus age-appropriate visitation recommendations.
You can ask your local family court for examples of formal state guidelines for parenting time, or go online to see. You can pattern your sample parenting plan and custody schedule after these in order to see what the family court is expecting at a minimum.
These formal guidelines also help the family court determine reasonable parenting time and are often used as a starting point for what is in the children's best interests. Ultimately, the parenting time schedule that is approved by the court will be influenced by the circumstances of each family.
The family court likes to see parents work together to determine what their children need, but in the event that there cannot be an agreement, the formal parenting time guidelines may provide a place to begin the discussions in mediation.
Parenting time guidelines should outline what kinds of topics you and the other parent need to work out, such as where the children will go during holidays and what happens when you and the other parent just don't agree on something.
Here are the 5 most important topics to discuss as you work out parenting time arrangements:
- Calendar: You will need to create a physical calendar that outlines where your children will be each day of the year, including holidays and vacations.
- Transportation: Agree on how your children will travel between residences, and how costs will be divided.
- Communication: Determine how you will communicate with each other, and what information about the children needs to be shared with the other parent.
- Problem solving: Know what you will do when there are problems with the parenting time schedule, such as hold a mediation session or get attorneys involved.
- Revising: Set up a schedule for when you will meet again and make revisions because as your children grow, you'll need to make adjustments to meet their needs.
Custody X Change software can assist you in creating comprehensive parenting plans and parenting time schedules that you can submit to the family court or take to mediation. Having an example in hand can help you communicate your vision for your restructured family.
Parenting time guidelines generally urge parents to consider age appropriate visitation schedules and to resist introducing too much change too quickly.
Putting an unrealistic parenting time schedule into practice can cause anxiety and stress in your children, resulting in mood swings, behavior issues and even illness.
Here are some specific guidelines for younger children:
- Infants and toddlers: While both parents are critical to healthy development, experts feel that children this age need continuous contact with their primary caregiver. This reliability gives young children a sense of security. Scheduled parenting time in short, frequent intervals that don't disrupt the children's schedules too much.
- Preschoolers: This age group doesn't grasp time very well and the time between visits can seem like forever. Frequent contact with the absent parent by phone can help. Avoid overnight visits unless the child is very comfortable with separation from the primary caregiver.
- Early elementary: Flexible and frequent is the guideline for visitations at this age. Overnights are fine, and even a few nights in a row may even work for more mature children. Transitions between homes can be stressful, so parents should do everything possible to keep them smooth and conflict-free.
Use the award-winning software Custody X Change to create age-appropriate parenting time schedules for your young children.
Parenting time guidelines for older children and teenagers recommend combining firm boundaries with flexible scheduling. Due to older children's increasingly busy lives, making time for their own interests is important as well.
Some of the challenges you may face in creating a parenting time plan for older children and teens include:
- Extracurricular activities
- Increase in homework
- Time with friends
- Time for dating
- Jobs, whether baby sitting, yard work or actual employment at age 16
- Alone time
Older children and teens may not act like they need quality parenting time, but they still need guidance and direction from both parents.
You and the other parent can help your older children and teens to balance independence with family life. Parental involvement is critical in helping older children transition from the teenage years to becoming an adult.