Developing a parenting time plan for children usually is not easy. It is especially difficult in a high-conflict case. As family lawyers, we should give our clients realistic expectations about the kind of parenting time plan they can count on if the county in which the case is pending has a standard parenting time plan.
We also owe it to our clients--and especially to their children--to encourage the development of parenting time plans that are sensitive to early childhood development.
My favorite resource for developing a parenting time plan that is developmentally sensitive is "Planning for Parenting Time: Arizona's Guide for Parents Living Apart." Arizona encourages parents to develop their own parenting time plan and, in the process of doing that, to consider the developmental needs of their children.
Family lawyers everywhere--and parents who are proceeding in pro per--are well-served by the guidance provided by this resource. If parents are encouraged to develop their own parenting time plan and are guided to avoid conflict, how much better off their children would be. I recall once hearing a judge tell the parties appearing for a settlement conference: "Why would you want me--a complete stranger to your family--to make such an important decision regarding your children when you--the parents--are the ones who know your children and their needs?"