Parents in Texas who divorce or start living separately from one another generally share custody of their children. The exact terms included in a custody order or parenting plan depend on how parents share parenting time and also the unique needs of their family unit.
One of the most important considerations when establishing a schedule for custody exchanges is the age of the children in the family.
Age determines how many exchanges are necessary
The younger a child is, the less time they should spend away from their primary caregiver. Infants do not yet have a sense of object permanence. If they cannot see something, they may no longer feel secure about its existence.
As such, any lengthy separation between an infant and their primary caregivers can be a concern for their emotional and psychological development. Younger children typically require visitation arrangements to keep them familiar with the parent who is not their primary caregiver, and when they are, then overnight visits will become an option.
By the time children are in grade school, they can likely spend several days with each parent, and teenagers could go entire months with one parent. Such arrangements are common when parents move far apart from one another or one parent has a very demanding schedule but wants to spend summer vacation with me.
As a general rule of thumb, the older the children are, the longer they can spend with either parent without any concern about the schedule damaging their bond with their other parent.
Parents can plan for the future or agree to update later
Parents create parenting plans that have very detailed terms. They may plan for the immediate future and also explain how the arrangements will change in a few years as the children mature. Other families will simply address their current needs and then agree to go back to court to pursue or finalize a mutually-agreeable modification in the future. Both approaches have benefits and drawbacks depending on a family’s unique circumstances.
Adults ending a relationship need to be cognizant of how the choices they make can have lasting impacts on the children in the household. Learning more about child custody matters and seeking legal guidance can benefit those who are divorcing or separating from the other parent of their children, as making assumptions based on incomplete knowledge can result in negative consequences.