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How your parenting plan should reflect your child's age

The age of your child makes an enormous difference in what type of parenting plan is best for him or her.

Here are just a few ways your child's development may influence the parenting plan you choose.

Infants

Around 6 months, infants begin to recognize who their main caregivers are. To ensure that each parent forms this relationship with an infant, both parents should be involved in caring for the infant frequently and maintaining a stable routine. This may mean shorter parenting times with more exchanges between parents.

At older ages, children may begin to have more difficulty with these exchanges. This is normal. However, easing these transitions can be done by keeping them predictable and consistent.

Children

As children grow older, longer amounts of parent time with less exchanges from one parent to the other may help them feel more comfortable. However, children can range widely as to whether they are ok with longer periods of separation or would rather move back and forth frequently. Also, consider that older children (ages 10-12) may care more about being where their friends are than which parent they're with.

In these situations, working through a parenting plan in a mediation session might be helpful. Mediation sessions can use the guidance of a professional, such as a child psychologist, to help parents navigate what's best for their unique son or daughter.

Teens

Unlike children, most teenagers tend to be the same in that they all seek independence from their parents whether they're in a divorced family or not. It's also common for most teens to be moody. If you are getting backlash from your teen about how the parenting plan should be, you're not alone.

Still, it's important to maintain a loving, supporting relationship with your child. One way you may need to do this is by allowing your teen a little bit of the freedom he or she desperately wants. This may be difficult for you if it means your child spends more time with the other parent to be closer to friends or a job. In these cases, fight any resentment you may feel toward the other parent.

Remember that teens are still looking for parents to recognize how the divorce affects them. It will be challenging to offer support and acceptance while also putting your foot down at times. Try to keep in mind what's best for your child, rather than yourself. That means being flexible and keeping peace with the other parent.

Help

If your child is in an in-between stage, it might be challenging to know which parenting plan will best accommodate his or her development. You may also wonder at what age it may make sense to make modifications to an existing parenting plan.

Speaking with a Family Law attorney with experience in these types of cases is the best course of action you can take to devise a plan that's best for you, your child and the other parent.

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