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Visitation

 Divorced Families Co parenting

Visitation schedules can come in various forms. Learn the secrets and pitfalls.

Whether your State uses the term visitation or prefers the more up to date parenting time, the requirements for establishing a schedule for the non-custodial parent to visit with the children are left up to the individual States.

In all but the most contentious divorces, parents agree on when and where a non-custodial parent will visit their children. They characterize the non-custodial parent’s time with the child as reasonable visitation in court documents, enabling them to work out flexible visitation schedules among themselves. When parents are unable to come to an agreement, the court will set up a definite visitation schedule, taking into consideration some or all of the following:

  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each parent and the child
  • the age of the child
  • The health of the child
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes
  • The moral fitness of each party
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • The home, school, and community history of the child
  • The distance between the respective residences of the parties
  • The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party
  • The ability of each party to give the child love, affection, and spiritual guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference
  • The ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party



Elements of a Visitation Schedule
  1. custodial will notify school to list non-custodial as parent of the child
  2. custodial will notify non-custodial abour parent teacher meetings, school programs athletic events and any other school activities
  3. custodial will provide copy of child’s grades and progress reports
  4. custodial will arrange appointments for parent-teacher conferences at a time non-custodial can be present
  1. custodial will notify when there is any illness that requires medical attention

unhappy child

Reasonable visitation
    • non-custodial parenting time with child on alternate weekends from Fri 7 PM to Sunday 7 PM
    • Mothers day with mother-fathers day with father. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day can take precedence over any conflict with any regularly scheduled week-end
    • Holiday parenting time: President’s Day, Memorial Day (Friday night to Monday night), labor day (Friday night to Monday night), Thanksgiving (from Friday before through week of Thanksgiving ending on Sunday after Thanksgiving), Christmas
    • Christmas Eve, 9:00 a.m. to Christmas Day until 2:00 p.m., Easter (from Friday before through week of Thankgiving ending on Sunday after Thanksgiving), Fourth of July Night before to morning after, Christmas Vacation and New Year’s Day – Christmas day at 2:00 pm until the night of the end of new Year’s holiday at 7:00 pm., extended Summer vacation (one or two 2 week periods of time), one weekday night for 2 or 3 hours
    • Christmas Vacation and New Year’s Day – Christmas day at 2:00 pm until the night of the end of new Year’s holiday at 7:00 pm. Christmas Vacation and New year’s Day – Christmas day at 2:00 pm until the night of the end of New Year’s holiday at 7:00 pm
    • The visitation agreement would divide these times up equally, create a calendar and rotate each others schedule on even and odd years
Mutual Agreement

1. custodian to have child ready to go, non-custodian to return promptly, reasonable notice when late
2. custodian to send proper clothing with child
3. exclusions such as not taking children to a bar, or routinely leaving them with family or third parties
4. encourage communication with other parent
5. No bad mouthing the other in front of kids
6. no religious interference in to modify religious practice without agreement
7. electronic device contact (phones, computers, etc)

If the court accepts your visitation schedule, it will often be included in the overall Parenting Plan and become an enforceable court order. Parents that anticipate (and wish to reduce) occasions of disagreement between them will agree in the final paperwork to jointly use an online Parenting Plan, where the schedule is maintained online, where one parent has exclusive access to make changes to that plan, and that they abide by that schedule until or unless they agree to make changes in the children’s scheduled activities.

 Read why an online Parenting Plan is a must own

Visitation Alternatives
    • Visitation according to a schedule – In cases where the hostility between parents is severe and they are unable to agree on parenting time, a court will balance the needs of the children and non-custodial parent with the imperative that the parents limit their interactions with each other. In these instances, courts will impose strict schedules e.g. every other weekend between certain hours or every Tuesday and Thursday between certain hours
    • Reasonable visitation – Reasonable visitation can be defined as both parents agreeing to be flexible by taking into consideration both the parents’ and the children’s schedules. Flexible usually means one parent agrees to be the non-custodial parent, and by definition, will see the children less or far less than the custodial parent. Getting all flexible is not necessarily equal flexibility. In order for a visitation agreement to be successful, the parents must communicate and cooperate frequently
    • Supervised visitation – a history of physical abuse, by either parent, can compel a court to restrict parenting time by ordering supervised visitation, where the accused partner meets with the children in a controlled setting and location, where they are supervised by court-approved personnel
    • No visitation – if a parent has been found by a court to be guilty of abuse, the court has the option to deny visitation in any form, for any period of time including a permanent denial
finger pointing rightFinding yourself in the midst of a child custody battle is a little like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. It feels so good when it stops. You better know the ropes even if you are represented, because it is mighty difficult to change a custody order later.  Attorneys make mistakes. We all do. Get your own complete Child Custody Strategies on the best strategies for winning custody or preventing your ex from winning custody. You won’t get a 2nd chance to do this right.

Parents that are able to reach an agreement on a visitation schedule but are inclined to cut corners will often hurry through the details of the agreement, to find out later that they forgot certain details (or didn’t think of all scenarios) in the agreement, and the result is disagreement over those situations until or unless they resolve them or take the contention back to court. Examples of that might include situations when one parent is unable to keep their scheduled time with the kids, and rather than offer them to the other parent, chooses to have someone else watch them. Another scenario might be when one parent wishes to have someone of the opposite sex stay in the home overnight while the children are there. There are many potential situations, and the only way to be aware of them is to develop a parenting plan using high quality software (see the online Parenting Plan link above).

In situations where the parents live far enough apart from each other to make an every other weekend schedule impractical, or when one parent wishes to move from the area (or State), visitation must be structured to accommodate the distance challenges while keeping the best interests of the children paramount. (All States prevent the custodial parent from moving out of the area or State without a written agreement by the custodial parent, or by a court order)

Parents that intentionally interfere with the visitation rights of the other parent can be subjected to court sanctions, fines, or in the most extreme cases, imprisonment or the loss of being the custodial parent.

Changes to the parenting plan can be made at any time after the final decree by the court, but if the changes are based on a verbal agreement (rather than approved by the court), the verbal agreements become unenforceable should the relations between the parents head south. You have heard it before: always get it in writing, just in case.

Questions and Answers

The answer is maybe. If you can get out of town before your spouse files a restraining order to prevent you from leaving, you still have the hurdle of establishing residency. Once residency is established in the new state (6 months for the child), you may be able to file for divorce in that state but issues such as property division, support and custody may not be able to be decided because of jurisdictional issues. In the end, most parents cause themselves greater discomfort by moving first. In addition, courts frown on parents taking children away from the other parent. Your spouse could make a case that could put you in a bad light in front of the court, which can negatively impact who ultimately gets custody.

Hey, slow it down there. Leaving your children like that is frowned upon by the courts. Which one of you has done most of the parenting? Courts prefer continuity for children, meaning that if one parent did most of the care giving in the marriage, that parent is likely to be awarded physical custody (primary custodian) after the divorce becomes final. Are you moving nearby? Parents who don’t live close to each other will have a different arrangement than parents who live in the same city and school district. Shared custody arrangements can have many variations. There will usually be a primary residential parent and a non-residential parent, the latter spending less time with the child according to a standard visitation schedule. You presume you’ll get custody. Unless your wife is unfit, you have a 1-in 4 chance of being the custodial parent. See an attorney first.

Yes, they certainly can, and they do if there is cause for it. The court will examine the facts, which will include any indication or evidence of alcohol, substance abuse or domestic violence. In the best interest of the child, the court has a wide range of options. Custody or visitation can be limited, denied or terminated depending on the court’s findings.

That’s going to depend on a number of factors, which include whether you are legally divorced or not, how your state defines adultery, and perhaps other laws that pertain to morality. It could be that courts in your state take a dim view of exposing a child to such a situation, where a nearby state may have a different opinion. Check with an attorney first.

Courts now, more than ever, look at all factors related to the “best interests of a child” in making a custody decision. This includes the air quality for the child. It isn’t likely that smoking alone could cause a change in physical custody, but it sure can’t help his cause. Convince him to take it outside, or better, yet, quit. If he won’t agree to it in writing (ask him to agree in a divorce settlement agreement), you can ask the court to order him to not smoke where your child might breathe the second-hand smoke. Be careful here, though. The only way you’ll know if he’s violating a promise or court order will be if your child tells you, which puts your child in the middle. That can sometimes add more tension. In any case, get it in writing, and have it become a part of the court order.

Call an attorney right away. If you and your child have established residency, your state will have jurisdiction, which can prompt the court to order that he or law enforcement return your child. In some states this can be construed as kidnapping if you have a court order of custody.

Be very careful here. The answer is probably not, but you must demonstrate to a court good reason for it. Be aware that courts have seen it all, so if your aim to simply to change names to hurt your ex, they’ll see through it. Also, be careful not to alienate your kids from your ex. He is a “part” of them, and denigrating him to them denigrates a part of them.

In general terms, it does not. Courts won’t get involved in the religious beliefs, wishes and desires of parents unless a religion poses a threat to the well being of the children. Your custody order will define who has legal custody (the right to make major decisions for the child).

Visitation and monetary child support are two separate legal issues, and one does not impact the other, so the answer is: you may not. You cannot alter or modify the court-ordered visitation schedule until or unless you request modification and the court, based on relevant facts, rules in your favor.

When the parties cannot agree, the court steps in, and uses specific guidelines (laws) established by that State’s Legislature. The court will attempt to discern what the parents want, what the child wants (if the child is old enough to form an opinion 12+ years old), which parent has been the primary care provider, the parenting capabilities of each parent and whether or not there has been a history of abuse.

That depends on the State you are in and the laws that your State has covering this topic. Some States allow the grandparents to petition the court during your divorce, other States permit petitioning the court after the divorce is finalized, and still other States do not permit grandparents to petition in any way. Check the details on your State’s page here.



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