In determining the appropriateness of early childhood (6 to 8 years of age) living arrangements after separation and divorce, parents should carefully consider their family’s particular background, environments, needs and preferences. In addition, maximizing a child’s adjustment to the process of separation and divorce, decisions about parenting time depend on many things: child’s age, gender and development. Other factors to reflect upon when creating a time-sharing schedule consider the following:
- Emotional, social, and academic needs of the child
- Health, welfare, and safety of the child
- Level of communication and cooperation between parents
- Co-parenting style between parents
- Parenting skills and psychological adjustment of each parent
- Ability of the parents to provide supervision and transportation
- Quality of the parent-child relationships
Most six to eight-year olds can handle transitioning back and forth on a regular basis between their parents’ homes with ease, although some children benefit from spending more time at one home. Children differ in how long they are comfortable being away from each parent. Some children may be content being away two or more days, while others can tolerate separation from a parent for longer periods such as five days or a one week rotation. The longer time frames work if the child has spent significant quality time with each parent.
In this age group, the child’s educational demands, extra-curricular activities, parents’ work schedules and availability to provide transportation are central factors in determining living arrangements. Likewise, stability, predictability, supervision, ensuring the child’s readiness for school each day, and lack of exposure from parental warfare are vital to the child’s adjustment. Transitions that take place at school or daycare eliminate the opportunity for parental conflict.
Parenting time schedules that allow for shared time during the school week allows for an opportunity for both parent to supervise homework, and to participate in bedtime and waking rituals. However, children with a difficult temperament or learning disabilities may benefit from less frequent transitions during the school week.
Dr. Robert Emery, a well-regarded expert on children, divorce and child custody and author of “The Truth about Children and Divorce”, has identified alternative parenting plan options based union the type of parenting partnership between parents: Angry Divorce, Distant Divorce and Cooperative Divorce. He believes that the “divorce style” or parenting partnership is critical to making any parenting plan work. For detailed schedules for children 6 to 9 years of age for parents with any of these divorce styles see .
For more details on specific early childhood parenting time schedules visit:
- Arizona Supreme Court Parenting Time Guidelines at:
- Boyan, S. and Termini A.M. (2018). Parenting Coordination Reference Manual (Available at www.cooperativeparenting.com)
- Ohio: Planning for Parenting Time:Ohio’s Guide for Parents Living Apart at http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/Publications/JCS/parentingGuide.pdf
Ann Marie Termini, Ed.S., M.S., LPC