Six Guidelines for Crafting A Child Custody and Parenting/Visitation Schedule
Finding a way to make your divorce as easy as possible on your children can be a serious challenge. One of the most lasting ways that a divorce will impact your children is through your family’s parenting and visitation schedule. Take care to devise a schedule with your co-parent that will best promote your children’s best interests, and consider these guidelines to make your parenting schedule as successful as possible. You may also want to consult the Kamitly Court Model Time Sharing/Visitation Guidelines for the State of Kentucky, for more detailed and extensive child custody do’s and don’ts.
- Make the schedule regular and reliable: Keeping your custody and parenting schedule the same from week to week or month to month will offer your children stability, which is something they will need after the upheaval of a divorce. Children who know where they will be staying from day to day will feel more in control of their lives and less likely to feel anxiety.
- Keep the schedule simple: Rather than a complex arrangement that leaves you and your children at a loss about where to go and when, maintain a basic schedule that’s easy for all of you to remember. You’ll be more likely to lose track of complex arrangements. Additionally, the worse the relationship between you and your co-parent, the better it is to have a simple schedule that requires the least possible communication or opportunity for disagreement between you and your ex.
- Decide early how you want to divide holidays and summer vacation: Fights over where your children will spend their holidays can run long and ugly. Try to find a compromise on where your children will be on special days, and rather than fight to the death over each one, plan to have your own holiday celebration in the days before or after the holiday itself, to alleviate pressure to spend each holiday together.
- Design the schedule that best suits your children’s needs: Your children’s ages will have an effect on the custody parenting arrangement that’s best for them: younger children often need more time spent in their parents’ physical presence, whereas older children can remain close to parents with whom they speak on the phone or text regularly. Additionally, older children are more likely to have extracurricular activities and social lives that make switching between homes more challenging.
- A perfect 50/50 time split may not be in your children’s best interests: Having your children switch households every other day or week can be hard on kids. Rather than ensuring that your time with your children is perfectly even with that of your ex-spouse’s, put your children’s interest in the front of your mind. Some couples have had success with the parents being the ones who switch homes, rather than forcing the children to pack and uproot whenever they spend time with the other parent. This generally works during the temporary period of the divorce proceedings, but not after.
- Stay flexible: Schedules may need to change, based on career shifts for your co-parent, your children’s extracurricular activities, or a move for you or your ex. Remain flexible and open-minded to occasional changes requested by your children or former spouse.
If you need assistance with your custody battle or divorce from a skilled and experienced Kentucky family law attorney, contact the Louisville offices of Gwin, Steinmetz & Baird for a consultation on your case, at 502-618-5700.