The goal of the majority of divorcing parents in Texas may be to maintain a loving post-divorce relationship with their children. However, this does not come without careful planning and consideration of the children’s ages, their psychological needs at different ages and each child’s unique temperament. Regardless of whether parents share custody or whether one parent has primary child custody, a visitation plan must focus on the best interests of the children.
The challenges related to different ages start with infants who need to build strong bonds with their primary caretakers, and although toddlers begin to develop some sense of independence, it is suggested that visits away from the primary caretakers are best kept short but frequent for children in these age groups. By the time kids reach two-and-a-half to five years, their individual temperaments must dictate the length of visits and whether they are ready for overnight visits. Kids between six and eight years thrive on relationships built with friends, and although longer visits may be appropriate, parents must look out for homesickness and adjust visitation times accordingly.
Community activities, friends and extra-curricular activities continue to rule the lives of children from nine through twelve years, and parents must accommodate the children’s need not to be away from their familiar surroundings for too long. Between thirteen and eighteen, psychological emancipation develops, and children may want to have some say in the visitation schedules that are established. Their need to develop their own social structures must be respected.
With all that said, every child is unique, and creating visitation plans can be complicated. However, help is available from experienced Texas child custody attorneys who may even suggest the services of qualified mediators. With the guidance of an independent third-party, and the valuable input of each parent’s legal counsel, drafting visitation plans that accommodate the needs of all parties while maintaining strong parent-child relationships may be achieved.
Source: life.familyeducation.com, “Age-Appropriate Visitation“, Accessed on Jan. 6, 2016