Child Visitation: How to Split Time
Written by: Megan Dell
When a couple decides to divorce, one of the most daunting problems is establishing a child visitation schedule. Not so long ago, a non-custodial parent would be given “standard visitation,” which was often every other weekend and a few weeks over summer visitation.
As society has changed, so have visitation schedules. Because we now recognize the importance of a child maintaining substantial relationships with each parent, the recent trend is a more generous child visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent. The definition of standard visitation has been expanded; standard visitation now often includes an additional overnight (from Sunday night until Monday morning) as well as a mid-week dinnertime visit, and as many as four weeks during the summer.
Additionally, as people are more mobile than they used to be, we now consider the geographic distance between the parents to outline a practical schedule. When two parents live far away from each other, it is common for the non-custodial parent to have less frequent, but longer, periods of visitation.
Divorce is so prevalent in our society that studies are being conducted to assist in identifying what is best for children. As such, child development is also playing a larger part in developing child visitation schedules. For example, younger children may benefit from more frequent and shorter periods of visitation with each parent, and many visitation schedules take that into account.
Sometimes a more equal child visitation schedule is necessary, depending on a family’s circumstances. These can include a weekly rotation of the child, or any number of other shared parenting schedules, depending on what is best for the family.
For child in high school, it is becoming more common to allow them to arrange a visitation schedule that works best for them, taking into account their independent social lives and extracurricular activities. This is especially common when a teenager is able to drive and has regular access to his or her own vehicle.
A lawyer who handles these issues frequently is best able to help you develop a child visitation schedule that is tailored to your family’s needs.