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Setting up custody guidelines based on a child's age

When determining how a child custody arrangement should be made, the court may take into account the age of the children and the way that the divorce is going to impact them. The goal is then to lessen this impact as much as possible.

Though parents may think that an infant, not understanding marriage or divorce, will not be impacted at all, the reality is that psychologists say that the disruption in scheduling and the infant's overall environment can still be harmful, even though it may not know why that is happening. As such, it's recommended that consistency be the key to the arrangement. This stability can help to keep the child from feeling upset.

The same is true for toddlers and children up to two years old. They may still not fully grasp the divorce, but they still need a predictable, reliable schedule.

As children reach the age of three to five, they start to understand the divorce a bit more, though they may not fully grasp it. At this age, psychologists note that guilt can start to form. The child may feel he or she caused the split. Therefore, they recommend that both parents be sure to tell the child repeatedly that this is not the case.

Predictability is also important when children begin school, especially when a schedule for picking them up and dropping them off has to be set. If one parent breaks the schedule, the child—unable to grasp the complex reasons why—may begin to regard one parent as better than the other, which can lead to many issues.

As you can see, reliability is the key, and both parents must remember this when setting up a legal plan to share time with the child in Florida.

Source: Florida Bar, "The Florida Bar Journal," Andrea Corn and Howard Raab, accessed Feb. 17, 2016

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