There is nothing easy about developing a parenting time plan with your child’s other parent. In theory, you could each take every other week and handle the rest as you go. But life cannot be neatly divided into week-long increments. Holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions may disrupt the regular schedule. Also, your child’s particular needs may require that both parents are involved every week or day. When you and your child’s other parent sit down to discuss parenting time, you will need to determine your child’s specific needs first. For help in developing a parenting time plan outside of court, contact the Naperville family law attorneys of Fay, Farrow & Associates.
Identifying Your Childs Needs
As a parent, you know what your child needs and what works best for him or her on a daily basis. However, instinctively knowing your child’s needs and specifically identifying them are two different things. You must be able to articulate your child’s requirements and preferences to support your ideas for the parenting plan.
In determining your child’s needs, consider a few questions:
- Are you breastfeeding? If so, your parenting plan will have to include when and where you will breastfeed. If you are willing, the plan may include pumping and supplying your child’s other parent with breast milk or supplementing with formula. Fathers looking to gain more parenting time will need to be patient during this stage. The parenting time plan for when a child is younger than 1 year and breastfeeding may need to be different than once a child is older.
- Is your child in school yet? If your child is too young for school, you and the other parent will have to discuss how child care is provided during each of your parenting times. It may be best to have one nanny who takes care of the child at either residence or find a daycare facility equidistant from your homes. However, do not leave the plan for school until later. Discuss now how you will tentatively handle a full-time school schedule. This increases the chance of a smooth transition.
- Will one or both of you need additional child care? You and the other parent may have vastly different schedules. While you may not need additional child care, like an afterschool program, the other parent might. If you or the other parent needs child care during his or her parenting time, discuss how care will be provided.
- Does your child have extracurricular activities? When your child is older, he or she may have extracurricular activities inside and outside of school like music lessons, gymnastics, ballet, soccer, or baseball. How will you and the other parent handle lessons, practices, recitals, and games? Will you both attend? Your parenting plan should consider current and future extracurricular activities.
- How well does your child handle change? Some children are remarkably flexible while others heavily rely on routine. Consider your child’s reactions to previous changes. If your child may have a hard time with a new schedule, consider how you can make adjustments gradually. For instance, if your child is used to living with his or her mother, then it may be best to gradually increase the amount of time he or she spends at his father’s house over weeks or months.
Minimize Inconvenience to Your Child
Moving between two homes can be hard on children. However, whatever plan you devise should strive to minimize the difficulty and inconvenience of the situation on your child. If the plan revolves around your child’s needs and his or her best interests, then your child should not only be able to get used to the new routine, but also thrive in it.
Call a Parenting Time Lawyer Today
Devising a parenting time plan can be stressful. However, if you and the other parent first agree on your child’s needs, it may be easier to move forward with dividing his or her time. You never have to go through this planning process alone. An experienced family lawyer from Fay, Farrow & Associates can help you understand your rights, articulate your child’s needs, and fight for a fair plan.