Custody arrangement considerations

Katherine Sellwood, PsyD Psychologist, shares advice for parents on how to communicate effectively with your ex-spouse and choose custody arrangements that have the greatest benefit for your children
Divorce And Children | Advice For Custody Arrangements
KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

Custody arrangement considerations

In determining custody arrangements, the first thing you need to consider is the level of conflict and whether you're going to be able to cooperatively co-parent with your ex-spouse. And, cooperative doesn't mean you have to like your ex-spouse, but it means that you have to be able to communicate effectively about things that involve your child in their day-to-day activities. There are four factors to consider when it comes to custody arrangements. The first one is the age of the child. The second one is the attachment to the parent. The third is the competence in parenting. And, the fourth is the availability of the parent. Younger children need more frequent contact with each parent while older children need more blocks of time and can tolerate longer periods of time going back and forth between home. When it comes to toddlers, toddlers are considered special cases based on their developmental needs. Attachment is the first three years of life, so there tends to be a primary caregiver, where the other parent will get hours of time or blocks of time, four or five hours. Depends on the child's nap schedule, feeding schedule, you know, sleep and wake cycles and activities that they do. Overnights won't typically start until a child is verbal, which is about three years old, then they can tolerate one overnight a couple of times a week. When a child is school-age, which is considered 5-11, then they extend that time to three to four overnights. You can expect at that time, though, for there to be a little bit of separation anxiety, and the way you can address it is just to have what's called a transitional object where the child brings familiar things back and forth to each home. When a child gets to be a teenager, they tend to have more say in where they want to be because friendships, peer relationships, tend to be more paramount so they may want to spend the majority of time, say the school week, with the parent that lives closest to the school or where their friends are.
ALL PARENTS, Divorce, Co-Parenting

Katherine Sellwood, PsyD Psychologist, shares advice for parents on how to communicate effectively with your ex-spouse and choose custody arrangements that have the greatest benefit for your children


Expert Bio

More from Expert

Katherine Sellwood, PsyD


Dr. Katherine Sellwood is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Encino, California, who specializes in child, adult and forensic family psychology. She began her Master's Degree training at Pepperdine University, continuing her education at C.S.P.P. to obtain a Doctoral Degree in the field of Clinical Psychology. Since entering the field in 1996, Dr. Sellwood has garnered a diverse professional background that includes working as an elementary and middle school counselor, college and regional center disabilities specialist, executive director of a non-profit organization in psychology, consulting psychologist at hospitals and in-patient medical facilities, and an academic Professor of Psychology at several graduate schools. Dr. Sellwood has been a guest lecturer presenting topics that include: anger management, early childhood development, play therapy techniques, taking a stand against teenage violence, developing resilience, treating children of divorce, loss and grief, adolescent girls and disordered body images, understanding behavioral difficulties.

Dr. Sellwood holds a license in clinical psychology through the state of California. She is on the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology, and is a Diplomate with the American Board of Professional Psychology. Her professional affiliations also include The American Psychological Association, The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, and The American Academy of Clinical Psychology. She has received professional honors and recognition through the Psy Chi National Honor Society of Psychology, the California Senate for excellence in school counseling, student nominated Who’s Who of America’s Teachers, and peer nominated Sierra Tucson’s Gratitude for Giving.

More Parenting Videos from Katherine Sellwood, PsyD >
Enter your email to
download & subscribe
to our newsletter