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Child Visitation / Parenting Time

Visitation Defined
Visitation is the term commonly used that defines when, how and where the non-custodial parent may have contact with the child. The term “visitation” although disputed and even “hated” by many non-custodial parents everywhere is still the term used most by the courts. A more palatable and more accurate term used is “Parenting Time” and “Parenting Schedule”.

To the best of our knowledge we know of no reported cases of a court denying complete visitation to a parent. Even in cases of abuse, supervised visitation is normally allowed. Even if a parent is incarcerated, that parent still has certain visitation rights with their children. Visitation may be denied by the courts but usually visitation will only stop for a certain time. For example, the court has previously stayed visitation until the parent either met a financial obligation or completed certain court appointed courses, counseling or otherwise "proven" they can provide for the child.


Factors considered when creating a Visitation / Parenting Schedule

  • Avoiding a schedule that is confusing
  • Avoid having the child "bouncing back and forth" between two homes
  • The child's social life
  • School schedules
  • Extra curricular activities
  • Schedule conflicts
  • Vacation schedules
  • Holiday schedules
  • Child's need for stability
  • The “best interests” of the child

Regular Schedule

The most common/standard visitation is for the non-custodial parent to have the children every other weekend from Friday night until Sunday night and also one or two nights per week. Depending on the proximity of the non-custodial parent's home to the child's school, and the ability of the non-custodial to get the children to school, the weekday visitation could also be an overnight visitation.

Each parent should also have vacation time with the children each year. Normal vacation time would be 2 or 3 weeks during the summer. If at all possible the weeks should not be consecutive. In some cases each parent will have the children for one month each during the summer. If the parents are seperated by distance not allowing visitation during the school year, the non-custodial parent may also have the children the majority of the summer months.

The best and most common holiday schedule alternates the holiday every year. For instance if the mother has the children for the Thanksgiving the first year then the father would have them the second year.

Visitation Exchanges
Do not use pickup and drop-offs as an opportunity to continue or begin an argument with your (ex)spouse. If you do not get along with your (ex)spouse then remain in the car. Beep the horn and let the children come out to you. Do not go inside.

Custodial Parent - Make sure the children are ready before your (ex)spouse arrives to pick them up.

Non Custodial Parent - Be on time.If you are going to be late, call your (ex)spouse as soon as possible and let him/her know what time you will be arriving.

Can Visitation Schedules be modified?

Can a parent deny a non-custodial parent visitation?
In one word … NO.

What can be done if I fear my child's safety during court ordered visitation?
you can file an what's called an "order to show cause" in court. This will get you an emergency hearing to discuss this issue and any possible remedies.
A request can be made to the courts to order Supervised Visitation

What can I do if I am denied visitation with my child?

Supervised visitation is when the parent is only allowed to visit with the child in the company of another person. This person is usually a friend or relative that the two parents agree will be allowed to act as a chaperon. Supervised visitation often calls for a restriction of visitation to a particular location and time.
Who can be awarded visitation? Obviously a biological parent can be awarded visitation. Additionally, grandparents (even when the parents weren't married or are not currently divorced) and step-parents may be awarded visitation rights. While there are no reported cases of brothers or sisters being given visitation, a strong argument could be made that it would be in the best interest of the child.
When can visitation be denied? The court has the power to deny visitation. If your spouse should deny you court ordered visitation, you first file for a modification of visitation for a more definite schedule, before filing a Contempt Action. (DR.3). Many parents feel they have the right to stop paying child support, but they are wrong. Withholding of child support will only get you in trouble and possibly arrested.