When parents in Pennsylvania decide to divorce or separate, it can be a challenging transition to co-parenting. Even when parents have had conflicts in their personal relationship, co-parenting requires them to find a way to work together to put the best interests of their children first. A parenting plan can help to deal with scheduling as well as key agreements for the children’s development. Of course, setting a child custody schedule can vary widely depending on the age of the child. Babies and toddlers may rely strongly on a primary caregiver but still need extensive time with the other parent in order to help the parent-child bond develop.
Older children can more comfortably move to full shared custody or overnight visitation with the non-custodial parent, especially if the changes are introduced calmly by both of their parents. Kids can feel emotionally torn when their parents involve them in child custody disputes, so it can be important to create a supportive, positive environment for the parenting plan to go into effect. Both parents may need to remind their children that they will see the other parent again soon, especially as young children may have difficulty understanding the periods of time involved in a custody schedule.
When children go to preschool and then later to elementary school, this addition of scheduling into their lives can also help them adjust to the custody schedule. If parents are divorcing when their children are older, they may cope more effectively with schedule changes but also feel greater emotional effects of the divorce.
A parenting schedule can be helpful in preventing unnecessary conflicts and presenting a stable environment for the children, but flexibility can also be a benefit when needed. A family law attorney may help a divorcing parent to negotiate a child custody agreement and a fair parenting plan.