Visitation Schedules for Toddlers
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.
You know your child best and you should make your visitation schedule according to his or her individual needs.
Some toddlers are very attached to their primary caregiver and are more reserved with other people, even their other parent. If your toddler is attached to your hip, you may want to consider easing in to visitation with the other parent. You may want to start with shorter visits at first until your toddler grows accustomed to the routine.
Other toddlers are just fine with leaving their primary caregiver and adapt well to a visitation schedule. If your toddler is more independent you may want to consider lengthier visits and overnights, if you haven't already.
As long as your toddler is permitted to have frequent, ongoing contact with both parents, you should feel free to create the visitation schedule you feel is best for your child. Your visitation schedule should grow with your child and change as your child's needs do.
Some courts have standard visitation schedules or suggested visitation schedules. You may want to check with your local court if you want to get an idea of what some other parents are doing in your area.
In the following examples, Parent A is the primary caregiver and Parent B in the non-residential parent. Here are some suggested schedules for toddlers aged 18 months to 36 months:
- Parent B picks up the toddler from daycare Monday through Friday. Parent B has the child for two hours on those evenings and feeds him or her dinner before Parent A picks up the child. Parent B also has the child overnight every other Friday until 4pm on Saturday.
- Parent B has visitation with the child Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for two and a half hours. Parent B also has the child for eight hours, every other Sunday.
- Parent B has the child for three hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Parent B has the child for eight hours every other Saturday and for four hours every Sunday.
- Parent B has a four hour mid-week visit and has the child every Saturday from 2pm until 6pm, with over nights until 10am Sunday, every other weekend.
- Parent B has the child every other weekend from 6pm Friday until 6pm Sunday with one three hour visit mid-week, every week.
Your toddler visitation schedule should provide your child with enough time to be able to develop a relationship and bond with the non-residential parent. You shouldn't feel obligated to follow any generic schedules if you are able to customize one for your child.
The child visitation schedule you make for your toddler now probably won't be what is best for a five year old, a ten year old, or a fifteen year old.
The best way to ensure your visitation schedule serves the needs of your child is to create several age appropriate schedules so you will have something to follow in the future.
You should create visitation schedules for the different phases of your child's life and include some schedules that you think will be appropriate for these age groups:
- Toddler (18 months to 36 months)
- Young Child (3 years to 5 years)
- Early School Age (6 years to 9 years)
- Later School Age (10 years to 12 years)
- Early Teens (13 years to 15 years)
- High School Age (16 to 18 years)
It might seem hard to predict the future needs of your child, but do the best you can. Your custody agreement should contain methods for reviewing your plan and modifying it in the future. The future schedules you make now may or may not be relevant in the future but it is wise to have something to fall back on just in case.
Your child should be able to spend time with each of you on holidays and special occasions. In the future, you may want to rotate the holidays and alternate them with the other parent. However, at this age, you may want to consider splitting the holidays so your toddler has the opportunity to share them with each of you.
Some parents are on good enough terms that they are able to spend holidays together with their child. For example, both parents would get together to take their child trick-or-treating. This idea won't work for everyone or for every situation so it is important to think of ways that allow your little one to spend time with each of you.
You may want to consider letting your child spend half of the day with one of you and the other half of the day with the other parent on holidays. This will allow your child to benefit from seeing both of you and neither parent will have to miss out on seeing the child on holidays and special occasions.