In many ways, the final divorce decree marks a permanent change to family relationships, but few lives remain stagnant over the long term, particularly the lives of the children. Any Denville child custody lawyer at our firm can attest to the fact that children’s needs change frequently as they get older.
By trying to build flexibility into the provisions of a parenting plan, parents can generally reduce the number of times they have to change child custody provisions until the children reach the age of majority.
Aging Children Have Changing Needs
Divorcing parents should take the time to review the online booklet, Parenting Time: A Child’s Right, available from the New Jersey Judiciary Administrative Office of the Courts. This document provides helpful information on the importance of developing a parenting plan that offers consistency when scheduling parents’ visits with their children.
It also explains the varying needs of children based on age group, as follows:
- Infants need regularity, which means that each parent must have the ability to provide care on a strict schedule. This also requires a great deal of communication between parents so both are aware of changing scheduling, nutritional and medical needs.
- Preschoolers still require a consistent framework, but that framework can include greater flexibility when it comes to visitation time and unexpected events such as family vacations.
- School age children have schedules that require even more flexibility. As they start participating in extracurricular activities at school or just want to see friends after school, parents may need to make additional visitation adjustments that permit social adjustment while still remaining a vital part in the children’s lives.
- Teenagers generally require greater independence as they pursue even more interests and social connections. They still require a strong connection with both parents, but they may need to contribute to parenting plan discussions to ensure that their needs are considered.
Clearly, children of any age continue to need strong emotional connections with their parents. However, since the parameters of their needs change over time, parents need to try to build flexibility into their parenting plans — or face the need to frequently return to court.
Developing Flexibility Into Detailed Plans Can Be Challenging
Parenting plans are generally highly-detailed documents that seem to have little room for extensive flexibility. That said, experienced child custody attorneys take the time to discuss their clients’ unique child-related issues. They can often add language that continues to meet the interests of the children while permitting parents to alter the provisions enough to meet their children’s changing needs.
At Riordan Family Law, we make sure our clients know which issues are flexible and those that legally require intervention by the courts. Call us or use our convenient online contact form to help ensure the protection of the children before, during and after divorce.