When the parents of minor children separate, it's time to begin thinking about custody and visitation plans. In some cases, the parents opt for shared custody which means they evenly share time with the children. In that case, a visitation plan is not necessary. However, it's very common for one party to have full physical custody of a child with the other parent being awarded visitation. For some help in creating a good visitation schedule, read below.
Considerations for Visitation
In most cases, the family court will only assign visitation if the parents are unable to come to an agreement. When making a plan, consider these things:
- Keep the disruptions to a minimum on school nights. Some parents choose to keep the child in one place during the school week and leave visitation for the weekend.
- Make backup plans for when a child or parent is ill, a parent must work, and during other emergencies.
- Plan how to address holidays, birthdays, and school vacations. Many parents alternate these days or weeks each year.
- If the child is old enough to have a say, ask them about their preferences. However, don't burden them with making big decisions about visitation or anything else concerning the divorce. They will feel responsible when things don't go well.
- Though you might not need to put such a provision in the visitation plan, do plan on ways to communicate with each other. Children are often busy, and life can get hectic when you consider after-school sports, lessons, play dates, and more. A shared digital calendar works well for most parents, and it ensures that everyone is on the same page and won't miss that recital or soccer game because they did not know about it.
- In some cases, the age of the child should be a consideration. Some younger children may not be ready for an overnight visitation until they are older. Keep the well-being of the child in mind as you make your plans.
- Parents who live near each other will find that visitation plans go far more smoothly than parents who live across town from each other.
- Moving should be addressed as well. Ask your lawyer about any laws in your state that govern how far away a parent may move with a minor child who has court-ordered visitation with a parent. Be sure this is addressed in your plan even if there is no requirement to do so.
To find out more, speak to your family law attorney.