Understanding Parenting Time Guidelines

How do I make a custody schedule using parenting time guidelines?

You can create a custody and visitation schedule on your own, with the other parent or with a lawyer or legal professional. If you don't want to pay the high cost of a lawyer, and you can easily make your own schedule using the Custody X Change software.

Custody X Change is software that helps you create custody schedules and parenting plans.

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What are parenting time guidelines?

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.

The phrase "parenting time" is becoming the more accepted way to refer to visitations, because it highlights the concept that the noncustodial 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 child development issues and how a parenting time schedule can affect your children.

What are the goals of parenting time guidelines?

Parenting time guidelines 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 maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship with the noncustodial parent
  • As children mature, their desires and ability to cope with parenting time change
  • Parents should always put their children's best interests first
  • Parents must agree to be flexible when creating 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 the Custody X Change software to take advantage of the detailed templates. You can customize them to fit your personal needs.

Is child development a big part of parenting time guidelines?

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 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.

What are formal parenting time guidelines for my state?

Each state has formal parenting time guidelines that set out the minimum requirements 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 check online. These examples could help you make a sample parenting plan and custody schedule that is in line with what your family court requires.

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 discussions in mediation.

What topics should we discuss based on parenting time guidelines?

Parenting time guidelines should outline the 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:

  1. Calendar: You will need to create a calendar that outlines where your children will be each day of the year, including holidays and vacations.
  2. Transportation: Agree on how your children will travel between residences, and how costs will be divided.
  3. Communication: Determine how you will communicate with each other, and what information about the children needs to be shared with the other parent.
  4. Problem solving: Figure out what to do when there are disagreements regarding the parenting time schedule, such as going to mediation or court.
  5. Revising: Decide when you will meet again to make revisions 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.

What do parenting time guidelines advise for younger children?

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, behavioral 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. Schedule 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.

Consider creating a step-up parenting plan to set out how your schedule will change as your child gets older.

What do parenting time guidelines advise about older 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.

What should I do once I've reviewed parenting time guidelines?

It's time to create your parenting time schedule. Let the Custody X Change app take the guesswork out of the equation by helping you build a schedule piece by piece.

As a result, you get a written schedule and a visual calendar. They meet your family's needs, as well as the court's standards.

For quick, reliable and affordable help making a custody schedule, turn to Custody X Change.

Custody X Change is software that helps you create custody schedules and parenting plans.

Make My Parenting Schedule Now

Custody X Change is software that helps you create custody schedules and parenting plans.

Make My Schedule

Custody X Change is software that helps you create custody schedules and parenting plans.

Make My Parenting Schedule Now

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