Guidelines For Child Custody
Parenting time guidelines give you and/or the other parent an accurate depiction of what’s important in a parenting schedule. Any example used should be modified slightly to fit your family’s unique situation and needs. These guidelines are often written to explain how child custody can negatively impact your relationship. They will be helpful to the divorcing couple in coming up with a parenting plan that suits both parents. If you or your spouse do not agree on any aspects of the parenting plan, the court may decide certain components should not be included. The court will ask that you both participate in parenting time counseling to assist you in working out an agreement.
You and/or your spouse must abide by the parenting time guidelines for every child. Once these have been put in place, both parties are legally obligated to follow them. The guideline will outline which parent has custody and which has visitation. The schedule outlines how and when each parent will be with the child and when the child will have visiting parents. It may also state which parent the child will live with, if any, and how the child will spend at least 50% of his or her time with each parent.
In many cases, the parenting time guidelines are very specific. For instance, in parenting time orders with visitation schedules, the order will state that the custodial parent must allow visitation to occur on a set day each week. This is called a set visit. In some cases, however, the parenting time guidelines will say that the non-custodial parent must allow visitation but the non-custodial parent must not spend more time with the child than is reasonable under the particular set orders. The court will then specify the amount of time for each parent to spend with the child.
Often, these parenting time guidelines become a part of the family court law package. However, they are not laws. They are just suggestions. The courts may follow them based on the information they receive from the home environment. For example, if the child has frequent changes in address (moving back and forth to different schools), this will probably be taken into account when the family is considering its visitation schedules. The same will go if the child moves frequently within the community.
The real issue is whether or not the parenting time guidelines serve the best interests of the children? The answer to this question can only be considered in the context of each child. If two children are living under the same roof and one parent is consistently present while the other is not, the judge may well consider that one of the children is being abused. Conversely, if the family is divided so that each parent has their own bedroom and spends a significant amount of time in it with the children, then the judge will look at what is in the best interests of the child. Obviously, there are going to be some differences in what are in the best interests of two different children, even if those differences do not directly affect either parent.
One area where the parenting time guidelines can be used to favor one parent over the other is during the child development years. In many jurisdictions, the court will require that the parents attend parenting time workshops during this time in order to help with the development of their child. The reason is that the child development years are some of the most important time for socialization and communication with others.
On the other hand, the parenting time guidelines can also favor one parent over the other when the family is operating on an inconsistent basis. If the mother works twelve hours a day and five days a week, and the father works five days a week and four hours a day, the courts are likely to view the mother as being the more consistent parent. This is because the mother can probably spend more time with the child. For example, if the child stays home alone during the day and spends time with both parents at night, the courts will likely view the mother as more consistent. However, if the child spends all of his or her time at home with the mother, and the father does all of the work outside of the home, the courts are likely to view the father as being the more consistent parent.
One area that tends to be a gray area when it comes to the parenting time guidelines is the issue of frequent versus infrequent contact. There has been much dispute over whether frequent contact is better or worse for a child. Some courts have been torn apart over this issue. One court has even ruled that frequent contact between a child and his or her natural parent is detrimental to the development of the child. There is no real way to know how much frequent contact is best for a child without having that person present and judging it for yourself. The best way to approach this issue is to use a combination of a parenting time schedule and a family mediation to arrive at an answer.