3 Factors that Affect Your Visitation Schedule
Written by: Megan Dell
Gone are the days of every dad getting visitation of every other weekend from Friday to Sunday. Now, the Family Court considers multiple factors that affect your visitation schedule.
Visitation schedules — also referred to as parenting schedules — are based on the best interests of the child. S.C. Code Ann. Section 63-15-240(B) provides a list of some of the factors the Family Court of South Carolina must consider when determining a child’s best interests. Let’s discuss some of them specifically.
Mental and Physical Health of Each Parent
Perhaps the most significant factor affecting your visitation schedule is the mental health and physical health of each parent.
Unfortunately, due to fear for the child’s safety, a parent who struggles with dependence on drugs or alcohol will be granted less visitation.
Parents with untreated serious mental health conditions are likely to have less visitation with their children.
Finally, absent undergoing substantive treatment, parents who have perpetrated domestic violence are likely to visit less with their children.
Developmental Needs of the Child
For very young children (between the ages of birth and 3 years old), it is important that they have frequent opportunities to form attachments with each of their caregivers, which makes frequent visits of shorter duration more preferred.
As children get a little bit older (between ages 3 and 5), periods of visitation can become longer and less frequent.
Once a child begins school (around age 5 or 6), having consistent routines day-to-day becomes more paramount. For that reason, research indicates that visitation of about 35%-40% of the school-aged child’s life is desirable.
As a child gets older and more independent (beginning around age 12), they have separate interests like hanging out with friends or participating in extracurricular activities. When a child starts driving, they may visit each parent more. However, allowing a child to decide independently when to visit is discouraged. Teenagers have a tendency to choose where they spend time based on whose rules are more relaxed. Some oversight is still required.
Ability of Each Parent to be Actively Involved with the Child
Though the statute references each parent’s “ability” to be involved with the child, it’s often a matter of logistics.
The distance between each parent’s home will affect how often a child can visit. Likewise, if a parent has a non-traditional work schedule — or a more flexible one — then that will affect visitation.
An experienced South Carolina Family Court attorney can help identify factors most likely to affect your visitation schedule. If you are worried about your visitation schedule, please schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys so we can help.