The behavior of parents has a great influence on the emotional adjustment of their children. This is equally true after the dissolution of marriage. The following guidelines have been found to be helpful in achieving meaningful timesharing:
Remember to put your children’s welfare first—try to see that their emotional needs are met and that they have an opportunity to develop as “normally” as possible under the circumstances.
Timesharing with the other parent, normally and under the proper circumstances, is needed and helpful to your children’s development and future welfare.
Timesharing should be pleasant, not only for the children but for both parents. Timesharing should help your children maintain a positive relationship with both parents.
Parents often ask whether it is okay to take the children to a new girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s house, especially during the duration of the proceedings. Timesharing should be a time for the parent and the children to be with each other, to enjoy each other and to maintain positive, steady and strong relationships. Having other people participate may dilute the parent-child experience during timesharing. Also, it may appear to the children that the parent does not care enough to provide undivided attentio n during timesharing. However, when other people are brought into social contact with the children in a healthy and suitable environment, it can be beneficial to them. Accordingly, you must exercise sound discretion and judgment in each situation, while always maintaining the best interests of the children as the primary criterion for your actions and conduct.
Keep your timesharing schedule if at all possible. Inform the other parent, in advance, when you need to change the schedule and, if possible, arrange for substitute timesharing.
You may need to adjust the timesharing schedule from time to time, according to your children’s ages, health and interests.
Often a parent wonders where to take the children during timesharing and what to plan in the way of amusement for them, particularly if the children are young. Activities may add to the pleasure of time spent together, but most important of all is the parent’s time with the children. Giving one’s self is more important than giving material things.
Do not use timesharing to check on the other party. Your children should not be used as little spies. If your children have the perception that their parents hate each other, they will feel uncomfortable. In their minds, if they do anything to please one parent, they may invite outright rejection by the other parent. For this reason, parents should show mutual respect for each other.
The children may be left with many problems following timesharing and both parents should make every effort to discuss them and to agree on ways to deal with them.
Both parents should strive for agreement in decisions pertaining to the children, especially discipline, so that one parent is not undermining the other parent’s efforts.
Both parents should use common sense in developing a timesharing schedule and exercising timesharing. Try to follow the golden rule “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You.”
Your children’s future attitudes, outlook and emotional development are important. Spending time with you that is as uncomplicated and “normal” as possible under the circumstances is necessary to their emotional health. To the extent possible, the children should know and have the love of and the proper guidance of both parents.
You may not move more than 50 miles away from your current home without first obtaining the other parent’s written agreement or the permission of the court. A failure to comply may result in sanctions such as being found in contempt of court, and the court may also consider the violation as a “black mark” against the you in future proceedings regarding timesharing. The bottom line for the custodial parent is: DO NOT MOVE BEFORE THE COURT GIVES YOU PERMISSION TO DO SO. The bottom line for the non-relocating parent is: ASSERT ANY OBJECTIONS TO A MOVE THAT HAS NOT YET OCCURRED IN A TIMELY MANNER; IF A MOVE HAS ALREADY OCCURRED, ASK THE COURT TO ORDER RETURN OF THE CHILD AND IF DESIRED, REQUEST OTHER SANCTIONS AND/OR A MODIFICATION OF THE PARENTING PLAN.
We know that these guidelines will not answer every problem which will arise, nor will they solve all questions raised, but if they assist you in a time of crisis and stress, then they are useful and are worthy of your attention.