14 Feb 5 Factors to Consider when Creating a Visitation Schedule
There are several considerations that parents must keep in mind when it comes to setting up a visitation schedule for their children. This is a part of the divorce or separation process that has the potential to be very difficult for the entire family. The children should be the main focus on the decision of where they will live and when they will stay with the other parent. The following five factors are the most important for parents who are concerned with maintaining peace and a caring environment.
5 Factors to Consider when Creating a Visitation Schedule
- Ensure That the Children Are Not Placed in the Middle
One of the worst possible aspects of the divorce and custody proceedings is that parents may involve their kids in the nasty battle. They should not have to hear any bad talk from one parent about the other, or be asked to relay messages back and forth. In fact, they should not have to hear about the details of the situation at all. This will only serve to make them uncomfortable and emotionally distraught at a time in which they especially need both of their parents to nurture and respect their emotions. Any conflict that does arise should be handled quickly and in a manner that is productive.
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Even if the situation is tense, parents who do not live together must communicate anything that is necessary for both to know about the children. This also includes anything that may impact the visitation schedule and the kids in general. When both of the parents work to support their children’s developmental needs at all ages, it is possible for the children to remain emotionally stable and avoid disruptions in their day-to-day life. Custody agreements may vary on what is necessary information to be shared between parents. However, in most cases any medical concerns, treatments, and procedures should be discussed, as well as if one of them intend on moving out of the immediate area. If action is taken in these areas or other crucial aspects of a child’s life, it can lead to serious consequences for the parent who disregarded the agreement.When there is a history of abuse or hostility that is not managed, communication can be relayed in a written form. A neutral adult who has been agreed on mutually also may be used for this purpose. Notice of any action, such as moving, should be given well in advance of that action being taken.
- Discuss Each Parent’s Wishes
One of the first steps of any discussion about the visitation schedule should be about what each parent wants in terms of time spent with their children. All of the factors of their lives should be considered, including work schedules, who is closest to the school(s), and what activities each parent will want to participate in with their children, among other things. Since it is a time that is fraught with tension, documents can be used to map out a preferred schedule before meeting. Certain forms can be used to have a handy visual, which can be printed out along with time-share percentage sheets to keep track of all of it. It may require a third party to be present and keep everyone on task. The visitation schedule will not be drafted officially until every detail has been looked over and an agreement has been reached.
- Determine the Best Interest of the Child
Regardless of what each party wants, it is incredibly important to realize what decision will be the best for the children. Considerations of the living situation of each parent, their mental and emotional stability, and who has been the primary caregiver are only a few of the areas that will be looked at thoroughly. The best case scenario is for the children to have time with both of their parents in a way that does not negatively affect their lives. The family lawyer will encourage this and advocate for a schedule that allows this to occur.
- Make Holidays a Focus and a Separate Schedule
Holidays will be written into a separate schedule. This will outline which holidays will be spent with each parent, or if the day will be split. It is optimal for children to spend time with each of them, especially if they became accustomed to traditions with the whole family. Holidays can be switched every other year, if this suits everyone. The holiday visitation schedule will override the regular schedule.
The creation and implementation of visitation schedules can be quite stressful, but it does not need to be. As long as the parties can communicate with respect and come to an agreement, the matter can be resolved in peace. If this is not possible, they can undergo mediation sessions to work out the details in a more effective manner. Either way, the children’s needs and wishes should be foremost in their minds and impact the final decision.