Divorcing is tough on any child, but it can have a significant impact on those in elementary school. Between the ages of around six and 10, children are learning to be more independent and to voice their opinions. At this time, they still rely heavily on their parents and need structure.
One of the best things you can do for your child at this point is to get them on a custody schedule that is predictable and balanced. If you and your ex-spouse can, work out a schedule that is as fair as possible, giving both parents access to the child. This will help them build strong bonds and have less anxiety, since they will be more familiar with when they’ll see each parent and what is expected of them.
What’s a common custody schedule for an elementary-aged child?
One of the more common custody schedules is to have alternating weeks with midweek visits. For example, a mom could have her son for the first and third weeks of the month, and dad could have them for the second and fourth. Then, in the middle of those weeks, each parent could have a visit. That visit might be a few hours or half a day, for example, to give their children time to see them.
Why does this schedule work? It makes sure that your child doesn’t go without seeing you for more than three days at a time by making sure the fourth day of any seven-day period has a visit from the noncustodial parent.
Are regular visits important for younger children?
Yes. While an alternating-week schedule gives your child more stability in the home, they still need to see both parents to continue building strong bonds. Staying apart for a week at a time is too long for most children of those ages and can cause stress, anxiety, depression or relationship issues because they’re away from their other parent for so long. If your child starts on this schedule and becomes homesick, then you may want to look into reducing the time away from each parent until they get older.