Visitation Schedules for Children Under Three

Visitation plans for children under the age of three are given more scrutiny.  State law requires the courts to consider the following before finalizing a parenting plan for a child under the age of three:

  • who previously provided care and/or the amount of contact between parents and child
  • how the child will be affected by separation from either party
  • availability and willingness of parents to personally care for the young child
  • ability of the parties to share in the responsibilities, rights, and duties of parenting
  • child’s physical, medical, behavioral, and developmental needs
  • the impact and influence of individuals, other than the parties, who will be present during periods of possession
  • siblings
  • child’s former routine
  • child’s need for healthy attachments
  • how close or far apart the parents live (the geographic distance between parents)
  • how well the parents get along
  • whether a transition schedule is needed to help the child adjust
  • any other evidence of the best interests of the child

Phased-in orders are commonly used in cases where the child is under the age of three. If there has been little or no contact between the noncustodial parent and child, most courts begin with a modified or phased-in possession order before transitioning to a Standard Possession Order. The order will list a certain number of phases, and each phase must be completed in full on the required number of scheduled periods before moving on to the next phase. Once the noncustodial parent completes the initial phases of possession, the parties shall have possession of the child in accordance with the Standard Possession Order or Expanded Standard Possession Order.

A court order for parenting time establishes the minimum amount of time the child will spend with each parent. Developing a parenting time plan that is different from the court order will be approved by the court as long as both parents agree to the plan.

If you are concerned about a visitation schedule for your child, an experienced family law attorney can help develop a plan that suits the needs of infants.  To speak with an experienced family law attorney call 214-265-7630 today.