The Post-Divorce-Parenting Glossary

Divorced-Parenting Term

Parenting Time


   What is parenting time?

   Parenting time is a relatively new term designed to replace the term visitation.  Thus, parenting time, in the context of parents who are separated or divorced, refers to the time the non-custodial parent has with their children.

   Family courts have begun to consider the language of divorce terminology and shift to terms like "parenting-time" which is congruent with the co-parenting movement.  The term visitation can have a negative connotation, incorrectly implying that the non-custodial parent suddenly is only permitted "visits" with their child.  The term "parenting time", by its emphasis on both the words "parent" and "time" implies a respect for the parent who is alloted time be a parent to the child when with their children.


   What are common issues with parenting time? 

   Divorced or separated parenting can present significant challenges.  Parents may have different levels of conflict from low to high.  A primary source of conflict can be over parenting time.  Often conflict occurs over scheduling challenges or one parent feeling they do not have enough parenting time.  The primary custodial parent may not wanting to give up any time that they have with the children.

   It is vital that parents consider what is in the children’s best interest, and that they place the needs of their children before any conflict they have with each other.  If parents stuggle to collobaroate with allocating parenting time and feel the need to argue about it, it is wiser and less expensive to seek the help of a therapist that specializes in marriage and family therapy with a focus on post-divorce parenting, because if unmanaged it is likely to trigger a custody fight in court.


   What are tips around managing parenting time?

   Parenting time calendars that help organize the scheduled time that children have with each parent can be very helpful in managing parenting time.  When children are living between two households, it can set up and enourmous potential for miscommunication between parents.  One parent may not have gotten the message, misunderstood the proposed time, or simply forgot about their scheduled parenting time.  Parenting time calendars help document planned time well in advance so parents may know what to expect.  They also help communicate changes that inevitably occur where one parent may have something come up unexpected.
   Parents that actively practice respect for one another’s parenting time often have less overall conflict while supporting their children having a positive experience with both parents.  Parents can show respect by supporting the rules across households and the authority of the other parent.   For example, when preparing for a custody exchange a parent might say "I want you guys to listen to you father (or mother) this weekend."   Parents can communicate with each other about "good" or "bad" behavior the children displayed during their parenting time.  Essentially the logic here is that valuing your children’s other parent versus devaluing is in your children’s best interest as well as yours.
   It can be difficult to maintain consistency between two households.  However, parents who practice working together as parents and being as consistent as much as possible have an easier time decreasing conflict and raising happier, more well-adjusted children.  Children naturally pick up on inconsistencies and this can undermine one or both parents' authority.
   When both parents can agree that they are working toward the same goal of raising healthy, happy children, issues around parenting time tend to decrease.   This leads to seeing your children’s other parent as a teammate versus an opponent.  Therefore, when scheduling issues arise and one parent has to make a change with parenting time at the last it can lead to more a supportive process if parents see the other as a teammate.
   Respect the parenting time that has been arranged by showing up on time.  Frequently canceling parenting time will likely have a negative impact on the relationship between parents and will communicate to the kids that they aren’t important or they can’t depend on the parent cancelling.   


Parenting time development plans
This page provides information about parenting after divorce, and helps you empathize what your children may be experiencing.

parenting, time, visitation, non-custodial, custodial

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