Creating a schedule of visitation is a detailed and complicated process
Visitation is the other half of the Parenting Plan. The courts are much more receptive to shared or near shared custody than they were 20 years ago. Every other weekend visitation is no longer the norm. The court wants both parents to have quality time with their children. It is important to give great thought to how visitation will be implemented. You must consider the demands of your career, the children’s activities, the proximity of the two homes, and what is best for the children rather than the wants of the parents.
It is often helpful to obtain the evaluation and advice of a professional who has assisted in the design of successful plans in the past. Often a neutral voice can help resolve difficult questions.
When a divorce involves children, the State of Washington wants to act in the best interest of the children. The court wants to see the parents agree to a schedule outlining when each parent will have visitation. This schedule of visitation will be included in the parenting plan and enforced as an Order of the Court.
Visitation schedules are often detailed and specific. It is not enough to say the children will spend every other weekend, or half time, with one parent. Specific times when the children will be picked up and dropped off should be detailed. Which parent will provide the transportation to and from each visit must be included. Additionally, specifics about holidays and vacations needs to be included as well. The plan also needs to explain how special circumstances or events are handled and how parents provide notice for such circumstances.
Even though you are divorced, you will continue to have special events in your life and the lives of your children. The ability to attend special school plays, sporting events, award ceremonies, weddings, and family gatherings needs to be taken into consideration when determining the schedule of visitation.
Creating a schedule of visitation is a detailed and complicated process. Working with your soon-to-be former spouse to reach agreement will take serious negotiation back and forth in an emotional setting. Having an experienced attorney by your side will prove to be a valuable resource.
As you start the divorce process, temporary visitation will be established. This may start out as an informal agreement between you and your spouse. Quickly though, the court will want to establish a Temporary Parenting Plan to cover visitation during the divorce process.
It is important to establish the visitation you want early on. If you and your spouse can both agree on visitation, you should start following the schedule immediately. A consistent pattern of cooperation benefits the children and helps you in court. Deciding details of visitation early will stop problems from happening later.
If agreement cannot be reached easily, it is important not to give up too much too early, hoping for a better result later. The court will often use temporary orders as the basis for the final Parenting Plan at the conclusion of the divorce. Trust an experienced divorce lawyer to negotiate the terms of visitation and fight for all your rights.
It is important to carefully plan your current and future visitation needs and desires before the temporary order goes into effect. As with custody, the temporary order can set the tone for your final visitation schedule.
Maintaining your relationship with your children is crucial. Even if problems arise with your current visitation schedule, make every visitation. Strictly follow any court orders. Be courteous to your spouse. Let your children know you love them and show them how important they are to you. Read our Divorce Do’s and Don’ts.
If you show disinterest in the children, fail to take advantage of scheduled visitation or antagonize your spouse, it will hurt your children and it will hurt your chances for maintaining or gaining visitation rights in the future.