Although some parents will spend a long time worrying about when they should file for divorce to minimize harm, there is no age at which the divorce of a child’s parents will be an easy process for them. Infants and toddlers will struggle in their own ways, and teenagers will have different issues when their parents divorce.
Instead of telling yourself that you can file for divorce if you just wait a certain amount of time, it is likely a better option to adjust your approach to divorce based on the age of your children. When it comes to your parenting plan and how you share custody with your spouse moving forward, the age of your children can be a very important consideration.
Older children allow for fewer custody exchanges
Every family needs to look at parental circumstances and children’s needs carefully to decide what would be best for the children. There is no black-and-white rule that universally applies to all families. However, when it comes to sharing custody, there are a few guidelines that can help the majority of families do what will work best for the children.
Typically, the smaller a child is, the less time they should spend separated from either parent. Infants truly should not be away from either parent for more than a day or two, which may mean that the best arrangement involves daily visitation and occasional whole-day visits with the parent who is not currently the primary caregiver.
As children get older, they can spend longer with either parent. Overnight visits will work for most toddlers. By the time they are in high school, they can likely spend a week or longer at either parent’s home without damaging the child’s relationship with the other parent.
Older children may have their own preferences
Your family may also need to talk with the children about their wishes, as it is common for older children to feel very strongly about certain elements in a shared custody scenario. Whether you go to court or litigate, you may need to consider your children’s preferences so that they feel respected.
The age of your children may also influence what kind of support they require during the divorce. From a playgroup with other children with divorced parents to sit-down sessions with a therapist, there are many resources that you could provide for your children based on their age that could help reduce the negative impact of a divorce.
Taking your children’s ages into account will be as important as considering other factors when negotiating a child custody arrangement or presenting your side of the situation to the family courts.