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Custody plans should honor stages of child development

New Jersey divorces of couples with minor children generally require the parents to prepare a custody and visitation plan for a family court. When developing the terms, the parents need to consider the developmental stages of their children. Sensitivity to the emotional needs of children could increase their ability to adapt to life split between two parental households.

Infants and toddlers might need to spend most of their time with a primary caregiver until they get older. An irregular schedule could distress infants. Although very young children need consistency, they still benefit from regular contact with both parents so that they can form strong bonds. During this stage, the noncustodial parent should care for the child two or three times a week for several hours at a time.

As children enter the preschool years, they should become comfortable with overnight visits with the noncustodial parent. Parents can begin the process with one full day away from the primary caregiver on alternating weeks. Once children enter elementary school, they gain some independence and could be ready to divide their time evenly between households. Custody plans for teenagers will frequently need to accommodate their extracurricular activities. Teenagers might also struggle during the divorce transition because they had many years within a two-parent household.

Information about parental rights could aid a person who wants regular access to children. The support of an attorney might help a person overcome disputes with the other parent about child custody. An attorney could handle negotiations and propose compromises that steer the parents toward an agreement that maintains the best interests of the children. In contentious cases, an attorney could petition a court to recognize a person's desire for custody or visitation.

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