An established visitation schedule is a part of child custody orders that divorcing parents must comply with. Attorneys who work in the field of family law help divorcing parents come up with workable and agreeable visitation schedules, which are subject to court approval. Visitation laws concerning children under the age of 3 are different than standard visitation laws, so the age of the child must always be taken into consideration by divorce lawyers when helping couples create workable visitation schedules.
Parental Visitation in Texas
Texas family court provides guidance for parents on the topic of parental visitation in the form of a Standard Possession Order. This order designates the minimum visitation to which a parent is entitled based on the specific circumstances of the divorce as well as other factors. Parents are allowed to determine their own visitation schedule to present for approval by the courts; however; the SPO provides a basis for defining a schedule. This allows parents, with the help of their family law attorneys, to come up with a good visitation schedule that suits their needs and provides adequate visitation time for children to be with each parent.
Visitation for Children Under Three
Although parents and their divorce lawyers can create their own visitation schedule to present to the family court for approval, special rules apply to children who are under the age of three. Visitation laws for children under the age of three include a court ordered visitation schedule, since children younger than three have different needs than those who are older. While the SPO may be assigned in many cases, the court will first consider many factors about the individual child before doing so.
Age, mental and emotional development, length of parental separation, and many other factors go into the creation of a suitable visitation schedule for children under the age of three during such critical and formative years. Above all else, visitation is based on what most benefits the child, what encourages healthy development, and what fosters a good relationship with both parents. This may mean much more visitation than a Standard Possession Order offers, since younger children typically require much more care and contact with both parents for normal development. More visitation can also help to avoid emotional concerns like separation anxiety and trust issues. Once a child turns three, the usual SPO goes into effect, or parents can work out their own, mutually agreeable visitation schedule.
Increased Visitation for Younger Children
Based on the knowledge that younger children require more attention from parents, court-ordered visitation for children under three considers two main developmental periods:
- Birth to 18 Months - Frequent visits with the child and the non-custodial parent are suggested, since this helps babies to develop equal trust for both parents as if the family were still living together.
- 18 Months to 3 Years - This increased number of visits continues to further establish trust by the child and promotes the child understanding that the non-custodial parent is still present and dependable, even if not actually living with the family.
Specific schedules ma differ based on specific circumstances. The emphasis on increased, combined visits is to pave the way for standard visitation schedules and visit types that will go into effect once the child turns three.
Family law attorneys understand that raising small children in a divorce situation can be challenging. Despite this, parents do have the duty to provide the best environment for their very young children, including essential parental visitation. To learn more about required visitation for children under the age of three, divorcing parents should discuss visitation with their divorce lawyers to understand and plan for these more intensive visitation needs and determine the best schedule for their child.
Foreman Family Law, PLLC
309 North Washington Avenue, Suite 12
Bryan TX 77803