Visitation for Children under Age 3


By Patricia D. Henderson, Esq.

While an infant, the developmental issues are the need for food, sleep, physical contact and visitations so that the infant can recognize faces. During the tender years, the noncustodial parent should have frequent and regular visitations with the child. These periodic visits should be at least two hours in duration and no overnight stays are recommended.

Children from the ages of 6 months to 18 months can begin to realize when a parent is absent and if visits are not regular and frequent, the child many times can exhibit separation anxiety. During this period of development, the non-custodial parent should be using these frequent visits with the child to bond while building emotional support for the child. It is not recommended for the non-custodial parent to leave the child with a non-parent, The focus of these frequent visits should be on establishing attachment with the non-custodial parent. Hopefully, both parents can work together to establish a positive and an emotionally healthy relationship with the child even though the parents no longer live together.

From the ages of 18 months to 3 years, a child begins to move towards independence, at this stage a child must develop confidence that the parent will be remaining in their life to avoid questioning if the parent still loves him. Several and more frequent visits are preferable over the standard 1st, 3rd , and 5th weekend stays. During this stage of development, the child will sense whether or not the parent is, both dependable and reliable concerning the parent-child relationship.

After the age of 3 years, the child will benefit if the parents have a cordial relationship. Parents who maintain a congenial relationship usually work out visitation among themselves; therefore allowing more frequent visits with the non-custodial parent. Parents who have many conflicts usually use a more structured visitation schedule. Parents need to encourage their children to develop friends and extracurricular activities and the visitation schedule should not be used as a barrier which can stunt the emotional and physical needs of the child ... be it now or in the future.

Children can cope with divorce and can grow up to be emotionally stable adults. Remember, the marriage may be over, but your family is not. PUT THE CHILDREN FIRST !!!

Last Review and Update: Jul 08, 2002