When drafting parenting schedules, many divorced parents in California tend to focus too much on their own time instead of discussing the developmental needs of their children. However, effective co-parenting requires more than just cooperation. Experts say it should also take into account how children react to the separation as they grow up. An effective parenting plan establishes child custody and visitation provisions in accordance with research on developmental traits.
When creating a plan, parenting time should be maximized for babies and toddlers. Otherwise, there may be attachment issues later in life. Some babies will spend much of their time with non-parental caregivers. However, they should also be given opportunities to bond with each parent for two or three days a week for several hours. When it comes to parenting plans for babies, it's better to avoid modifications because consistency is paramount at this age.
Once children of divorce reach preschool age, they start to understand the concept of visitation and accept the separation of their parents even though they might not comprehend the reason. Preschoolers are able to see their days as a collection of structured activities that may or may not involve their parents. At this developmental stage, children will enjoy spending one or two nights a week in the home of their non-custodial parent.
As for teens, the key is to accommodate parenting plans according to their personal schedules. Teenagers who grew up in a two-parent household tend to be impacted the most in a divorce. For this reason, it's important to avoid cutting the social lives they are building. Once age-appropriate considerations have been made, a family law attorney can help parents draft a parenting plan that the court will see fit to serve the best interests of the children.