Determining a parents visitation rights and schedule is not only emotional, but can have a significant impact on the child support payment amount. Get the best advice to help you determine what is best for your children.
Child custody and visitation rights are two of the most emotionally charged issue for parents that are going through a legal separation. It can even be emotional at times for us as attorneys because, as parents, we can empathize with what our clients are going through.
Two things throughout this process which are very important to remember:
- Stay calm and level headed since you are discussing your child’s future.
- The final solution should not be what best suits the parents, it should be whatever is best for the upbringing and wellbeing of the child(ren).
The visitation schedule is a product or result of the marriage settlement and will directly affect the monthly child support payments that the non-custodial parent will have to make for the care and upbringing of each child. A visitation schedule will often identify:
- The number of days a child will spend with each parent in a given year
- The days and times for each visitation in a given week
- How holidays will be divided amongst each parent
- How vacation time(s) will be divided amongst each parent
- What the best way to communicate with each other regarding visitation issues
- How parents will communicate if they cannot make their scheduled visitation
- How parents will “make up” their visitation day in the event they missed one
- Provisions for grandparent visitations
The legal standard for the courts has always been to act in the “best interest of the child” and will grant the non-custodial parent “reasonable visitation” rights since it is important for each parent to have a significant presence in a child’s life.
It is usually beneficial to all parties, the parent and the children, if the parents come to an agreement on a visitation schedule with the help of their respective attorneys since it can accommodate each of their schedules rather than having the court design it for them. Again, it is important to remain calm throughout this process since both parents must cooperate to determine what is a “reasonable” program that can accommodate both their and the children’s schedule.
Additionally if the court feels that a child’s wellbeing could be in jeopardy by the non-custodial parent during their visitation, a judge can order that each visit be supervised by a court appointed observer in order to prevent any harm to the child. The burden of proof falls to the custodial parent to prove to the court that non-custodial parent is not fit to visit with a child without neutral third party supervision.
After a scheduled has been set and agreed, issues often arise when:
- One of the parents feels that the other is not taking the appropriate care of the child
- The custodial, or non-custodial parent, is not sticking to the visitation schedule
- A change in condition is affecting one of the parents
When any one of these items is present it will usually trigger a modification process to the court where the presenting party will make their case for their request to a judge.
We can help walk you through what the various options are and what the ramifications are for each one. This can be a very emotional process – there is no need to go through it alone! Call us today.