When making decisions around time-sharing, it’s essential to consider your child's age. As your child matures, many variables come into play that may affect the quantity or quality of time they spend in each home. Therefore, it’s important to take all factors into account when adjusting what kind of time-share arrangement might be best for you, your co-parent, and your child as they grow older.
Time-Sharing Schedules for Infants
When planning a custody schedule for an infant it is important to keep in mind that having frequent contact with both parents is essential. This can be challenging, as it may require plenty of back and forth, but will pay off in the long run. When an infant has their needs responded to by their caregivers, a “trusting relationship and lifelong attachment develops.” This will help your child enter healthier relationships throughout their life and better influence their emotional well-being. There are various ways to divide time between parents. A reasonable start would be making sure your child does not have more than a few days without seeing either parent.
Examples of time-share schedules may include:
- Day visitation: Your infant lives with one parent and the other parent has frequent daytime visits.
- 2-2-3: Your infant spends two days with one parent, two days with the other parent, and three days with the first parent.
- Alternate every 2 days: Your child spends two days with each parent and alternates.
If the infant will be spending a few days with each parent, preparing in advance can help to ensure a hassle-free transition. For example, preparing breast milk, buying formula, obtaining doctor-prescribed medications, scheduling medical check-ups, and anticipating other items your infant may need. However, if your infant is not ready to stay overnight at another home, day visitation is recommended for the nonresidential parent to have the opportunity to feed, bathe, soothe, play, and bond with their child.
Time-Sharing Schedules for Toddlers
As a toddler, your child is beginning to create memories that will last their lifetime. In order to ensure their well-being, you must learn to help your child manage their evolving emotions. Naturally, this can be a challenging task, but it is critical to pay extra attention to the issue of separation anxiety. Adjusting your time-share schedule with your co-parent should be among the first steps in cultivating an environment of safety and trust for your child as they go from infant to toddler. Doing so helps them establish trust in you and your co-parent, which will build their confidence and secure relationships with extended family too.
Possible time-share schedules may include:
- Alternate every 2 days: Your toddler spends two days with each parent and alternates.
- Every third day: Your child spends every third day with your co-parent.
- 4-3: Your child spends four days with one parent and three days with the other parent. You may need to include midweek visits with this schedule.
As your child gets older and goes out for more activities such as play dates, preschool, and other events, staying communicative about pick-up/drop-off times and locations is needed. This can help your child transition between homes without hassle.
Time-Sharing Schedules for Children
As your children get older, the scope of a parent’s responsibilities can start to change. Your child may be involved in various activities such as sports, clubs, and other events that can become challenging to move around. They may also begin to express an opinion about how often they want to transition from your home to your co-parent's home. During this time, it’s important to listen to what your child shares with you and to put those opinions into consideration while adjusting your time-sharing schedule. Letting your child know that you understand their thoughts and feelings is important, as you work to find a suitable schedule for your family and maintain structure for your developing child.
Examples of time-sharing schedules may include:
- Alternate weeks: Your child spends a full week with each parent.
- 5-2: Your child spends five days with one parent and two days with your co-parent. At younger ages, this may need to include midweek visits as well.
- Split week: Your child spends half of the week with each parent.
As your children go between homes, it’s important to make them feel at ease in both households. This may include duplicating favorite toys, having necessities such as clothing and toiletries located at both homes, providing their favorite snacks, and more.
These schedules may be suitable for your family if both parents live in the same area and have strong communication skills. Navigating time-share can be challenging if your co-parent lives out of state or communication is difficult. Working with a family law attorney can help you create a very specific time-share schedule that fits your family’s needs.
Time-Sharing Schedules for Teens
As teenagers become more independent, parents should ensure their time-share schedules accommodate this newfound freedom and autonomy. Building in trust and communication during this time of independence is crucial to helping them grow and learn while still providing safety and structure.
It's possible that the existing time-share schedule may not need adjustment, or you may need to consider making changes. Teens may want to spend more time with friends, work, and participate in sports, clubs, and other activities that may affect current time-share schedules. Whatever the adjustments may be, being open and communicative with your ex-partner about how these changes are impacting your child’s development will help cultivate an environment of trust and understanding for all.
Examples of time-sharing schedules may include:
- Every 2 weeks: Your teen will spend two weeks with one parent and then two weeks with the other.
- Alternate weeks: Your teen spends a full week with each parent.
- 5-2: Your teen spends five days with one parent and two days with the other parent.
Weekly time-share schedules may need occasional adjustment due to your teen’s work schedule, extra-curricular activities, and other plans. If possible, staying communicative with your teen and co-parent can help to straighten out scheduling details.
Work with a Family Law Attorney
As your child grows and their needs change, it is normal for time-sharing arrangements to need adjustments. Sometimes these changes also have to be made due to new circumstances for either parent or the child. If changes need to be made, time-sharing schedules should be formalized in writing and made an Order of the Court. It can be challenging to navigate family law matters on your own and working with an experienced attorney can help smooth out this process.
As a well-practiced family law attorney at The Law Offices of Andrea Schneider, I recognize the sensitive nature of these matters and am committed to helping create solutions that work well for my clients. With over 30 years of experience, I can ensure that your child's best interests will always be kept in mind.
Call today at (619) 304-8499 or submit an online contact form to schedule a consultation.