Toddler Visitation Schedule - What's Best for the Child?

Getting a divorce is obviously a stressful time for adults. It can also put a lot of undue stress on children if not handled properly. Going through a divorce presents challenges for kids at any age, and toddlers have their own unique set of issues. If you have small children, you need to work out a toddler visitation schedule that works for both parents and most importantly the needs for a small, growing child. In Texas, we use the phrase possession of and access to the child, instead of the terms often heard such as custody and visitation. A parent has "possession" of a child when the child is with the parent. In regards to toddler visitation schedules, it is important that during such a young and impressionable age that the noncustodial parent have regular and frequent visits with their child. A life-long bond can be created at this age. At this stage in their lives, kids do well with predictable schedules and routines. They should eat, nap, and go to bed around the same time each day no matter where they are. They are rapidly developing and becoming curious. Both parents' homes should be childproof so the toddler can safely spend time there. Toddlers have very strong attachments to caregivers at this age. It is important for them to forge a relationship with both parents if its safe and possible. From eighteen months to around three years a child will begin to sense if a parent is dependable. So more frequent visits are preferred to build this trusting bond. Most kids are sensitive to anger and tension at the house. You should shield your child from any adult conflicts and try not to expose them to it.

The standard possession order for children under three:

When making a toddler visitation schedule, the court may decide a different standard possession and access schedule than for older children. Here are some key points the court will look at when making a toddler visitation schedule under three:

  • Care-giving history of both parents
  • How the child will handle separation from either parent
  • Each individual parent's availability, willingness, and ability to personally care for the child
  • The child's needs (physical, medical, behavioral, and developmental)
  • Each parent's conditions (physical, medical, emotional, economic, and social)
  • Other people who live with the parents that the child may be exposed to
  • The presence of siblings during periods of possession
  • The child's need to develop healthy attachments to both parents
  • The child's need for routine
  • The location and proximity of the parents' homes
  • The parent's ability to share in the responsibilities, rights, and duties of parenting

As the child grows, the court may make changes to the possession order to a more traditional one. The better the parents get along, the more often the non-custodial parent will visit the child since the parents will be able to amicably work out additional time for the non-custodial parent can see the child.  

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