Parenting Time Schedules Part 1

Cindy Best

Parenting time is the scheduled time a non-custodial parent can spend with a child. There are a variety of parenting time schedules that can be set up by a family, and the schedules can be as different as the families who use them.

 

Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Plan

  • the child?s age, maturity, temperament and strength of attachment to each parent
  • any special needs of the child and parents
  • the child?s relationship with siblings and friends
  • the distance between the two households
  • the flexibility of both parents? work schedules and the child?s schedule to accommodate extended access
  • childcare arrangements
  • transportation needs
  • the ability of the parents to communicate and cooperate
  • the child?s and parents? cultural and religious practices
  • a parent?s willingness to provide adequate supervision, even if the parent has not done so in the past
  • a parent?s ability and willingness to learn basic care-giving skills such as feeding, changing and bathing a young child, preparing a child for daycare or school or taking responsibility for helping a child with homework
  • a parent?s ability to care for the child?s needs
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    Model Parenting Plans for Birth to Age Three from the 2001 Maricopa County Parenting Guidelines

    The following is from the Maricopa County Parenting Guidelines from 2001. These are no longer online, but can be requested by e-mail to www.Bestlawaz.com.

     

    Birth to 12 Months

    Infants learn at a rapid rate. They are learning to love and trust familiar caregivers. Infants learn to attach to parents and others through consistent, loving responses such as holding, playing, feeding, soothing, talking gently and lovingly and meeting their needs promptly. They begin to respond to the different (but equally valuable) types of parenting mothers and fathers provide.

    Infants cannot retain experiences over time, so it is important that they have frequent contact with both parents and a predictable schedule and routine. But infants can retain ?emotional memories? of conflict that can have long-term negative effects, so parents should not argue when children, even infants, can overhear.

    By six months, infants can recognize their parents and other caregivers and may become uneasy around strangers. Regular caregivers are able to recognize their signals for food, comfort, and sleep. When away from them, infants may become anxious and may experience eating and sleeping problems.

    At this young age, it is important to maintain the infant?s basic sleep, feeding and waking cycles. Schedules should be adjusted so that disruption does not occur. For example, in creating access plans for this age group, parents should consider the special needs of breast-feeding infants.

     

    Plan A(1): Three periods of 3-6 hours, spaced throughout each week.

    Comment: Frequent contact helps the parent and child bond.

     

    Plan A(2): Two six-hour periods spaced throughout each week.

    Comment: This plan is helpful when the parents? work schedules or their levels of conflict make more frequent exchanges difficult. Because there are only two visits each week in this plan, bonding between the parent and child may proceed more slowly and the child may experience some difficulty going from one parent to the other.

     

    Vacation: Time blocks that vary significantly from the above are not recommended.

     

    Holidays: When holidays or special occasions like Father?s Day, Mother?s Day and birthdays do not fall on a parent?s access day, parents should consider dividing them consistent with the time blocks noted above.

     

    Plan B: Two three-hour periods and one eight-hour period spaced throughout each week.

    (See Plan A above for Vacation and Holidays)

     

    Plan C: Two periods of three to six hours and one overnight each week.

     

    Vacation: Presuming that Plan C overnights have been ongoing, parents may have three consecutive overnights, weekend or midweek, twice each year. Each parent shall give the other parent thirty days written notice of vacation plans and an itinerary of travel dates, destination and places where the child or parent can be reached.

     

    Holidays: When holidays or special occasions like Father?s Day, Mother?s Day and birthdays do not fall on a parent?s access day, parents should consider dividing them consistent with the time blocks noted above.

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