Parenting time (where your children live and when they will live there) can feel like the most important part of your divorce agreement. If you find yourselves getting stuck and overwhelmed about this issue, remember that children change as they grow. The agreement you agonize over today may not work a year from now. Depending on the age and needs of the child, the plan can change. For example, the needs of children in early infancy are much different than those of school-age children. The “Friendly Divorce Guidebook” has possible parenting time plans for each age group.
Don’t expect to know right away what arrangements are going to be best for your children in the long term. Your first Parenting Plan may not be your final agreement.
Most parents begin a discussion of basic schedules by talking about whether it is in their children’s best interest, at the present, to have one home or two. The two-home concept requires a plan for those times when you will transfer the children between you. Following are some of the questions you will need to consider and discuss. Remember, you may have different responses for each of your children.
• Is it important for your children to be in the same house on all school nights?
• How important is it that your children settle in on Sunday night before school?
• Is it important for your children to go to the same church with the same parent every week?
• Can either parent take your child to any given recurring activity (soccer practice, Scouts, doctor’s appointment)?
• Can your children go to the same school from either home or return home from their school to either home?
• Is there a maximum amount of time that any of your children can tolerate being away from either of you?
• How frequently do any of your children need to see each of you?
• Do you live so far apart geographically that your children will probably stay with one parent during the school sessions and with the other during non-school time?
• Is this the time to change the day care schedule or provider for one or more of the children?
• Is it important to keep your children’s day care schedule the same for the time being, in the face of other changes in their lives right now?
These are just some questions to ask yourself when thinking about splitting time. The “Friendly Divorce Guidebook” by Arden Hauer MA, JD goes over many possible scenarios and offers great suggestions and tools to help make these difficult decisions.