Your Child Visitation Plan
You can make your visitation plan on your own, with the other parent, at mediation, or with an attorney. You can also use Custody X Change, a software that creates custody and visitation plans and schedules.
Custody X Change is software that creates professional parenting plan documents and parenting schedules.
You have the right to spend time with your child (unless the court orders otherwise). If you do not have custody of your children, you have the right to reasonable visitation with your child.
Reasonable visitation ultimately means whatever amount of visitation will work best for your child and your situation. Courts encourage parents to work together to create a visitation plan and schedule so that you can have reasonable visitation.
Visitation cannot be denied because you haven't paid child support. And, you should continue to pay child support even if your visitation has been denied.
Visitation rights can be taken away by the court if a parent is abusive or violent or if the parent abuses alcohol or other drugs.
If you have been to court and the court has approved your custody agreement and visitation schedule, you need to go back to court and show that the other parent has violated the agreement. The court will decide on the punishment for the other parent--sometimes it's a fine, sometimes you get more visitation to make up for denied visitation.
If you don't have an agreement authorized by the court, you need to go to court to have a custody agreement and visitation schedule approved. Then, if the other parent doesn't follow the schedule the court can enforce it.
First, you need to decide where your child will live. You can have your child live with one parent and visit the other parent (a sole custody arrangement) or you can have the child live with both parents (a joint custody arrangement).
Once you've determined your child's residence, you can make your child visitation schedule. Your child visitation schedule shows when your child spends time with each parent.
Your visitation schedule should include:
- The residential or everyday schedule: this is the weekday/weekend routine of where your child spends time.
- The holiday schedule: this is the schedule that shows where your child will spend holidays.
- Vacation time and special events: this is the schedule your child follows when not in school, when special events arise, or when the parents take the child on vacation.
Along with your schedule, your visitation plan can include:
- Information about how you and the other parent will make decisions for your child
- A plan for how you and the other parent will communicate about the child
- A method for resolving disputes
- A plan for making changes to the schedule and plan
- Information about sharing and dividing expenses
- Information for how transportation will be handled for visitation
- Information about exchanges for visitation
- The right of first refusal (this happens when a parent who is scheduled to have the children isn't able to take them--in this situation, the other parent has the first chance to take them instead of getting other childcare)
- Any other information that will help your plan work
When you make your visitation plan with Custody X Change, you can:
- Explore different options for your schedule until you find the right one for your child
- Maximize the parenting time you have with your child
- Include information about making decisions for your child
- Include stipulations about visitation to make your plan work better
- Easily make changes to your schedule as circumstances change
- Sync your visitation schedule with your Blackberry, iPhone, Palm/PDA, Outlook, Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, Windows Live, etc
- Print multiple copies of your schedule so you and the other parent always know what's going on
You may want to set up visitation using a visitation timeshare calculator so you know the exact amount of time you have with your child. You can start with any of the following examples and use a calculator to adjust your schedule so you have the right time with your child.
Common visitation when your child lives with one parent and visits the other parent:
- Your child has visitation every weekend
- Your child has visitation on alternating weekends, 1st and 3rd weekends, 2nd and 4th weekends, or some other weekend schedule
- Your child has visitation on a weekday evening or multiple evenings and on weekends or alternating weekends
- Your child has visitation overnight during the week and also on weekends
- You child has visitation in any combination of weekday evening and overnight visits with weekend time
Common visitation arrangements when your child lives with both parents:
- Your child rotates every week or two between your home and the other parent's home
- A 3/3/4/4 or 2/2/5/5 schedule where your child spends 3 or 2 days with you, then spends 3 or 2 days with the other parent, then spends 4 or 5 days with you, and then spends 4 or 5 days with the other parent
- Your child spends multiple evenings and overnights in the week with both parents;
- Your child lives mostly with one parent during the school year and lives mostly with the other parent during school breaks
- Your child spends the first half of the week with one parent and the second half of the week with the other parent
You may find it helpful to track the visitation time with your child and keep a visitation journal where you write notes about your time with your child. This is especially important if the other parent has ever denied visitation to you or you've had problems with the other parent not following the visitation schedule.
Tracking the visitation time when you actually have your child and comparing it to the scheduled time can help you create a visitation schedule if you don't have one in place and it can also help you know if your current schedule is working.
Often, tracking the actual time helps both parents follow the schedule better. This simple thing encourages parents to follow the schedule because they know that the other parent will notice if they don't.
Keeping a custody and visitation journal with notes about your parenting time gives you a record for your custody situation. This can be useful when discussing things with the other parent and can also help you in court if you want to change your visitation arrangements.
Custody X Change has an actual-time tracking and journaling feature that lets you:
- Enter your actual visitation time and compare it to the scheduled visitation time
- Print a report that shows the difference between scheduled and actual visitation time
- Keep a custody journal and write notes about what happens during visitation
- Print your visitation journal
- Keep all of your tracking information in one place
- Use the documents from the software to modify visitation in court or mediation
To create a successful parenting agreement, your child's best interest has to be the priority. To make sure that your plan is the best for your child, you should think about what type of visitation arrangement will best meet your child's needs.
Here are some factors to consider as you make your visitation plan:
- The age and maturity of your child
- How well your child adapts to new situations and environments
- The physical, emotional, and social needs of your child
- Sibling or extended family relationships that are important to your child
- The capability of each parent to meet the needs of your child
- The current relationship between each parent and your child
- Where your child currently lives and the length of time your child has lived there
- The distance between the parents' homes
- Your child's school and community environment
- The parents' work schedules and
- The past care giving roles of each parent
As you make your plan, think about each of these factors and make your plan so your child will thrive with the new arrangements. Basically, you want your children comfortable enough with visitation so that they can still do well in school, social situations, family situations, etc.
Sometimes. All states have some way that grandparents can go to court and ask for visitation, but every state is different and it depends on where you live and your circumstances.
A grandparent who has been the primary caretaker of a child usually has a strong case for why visitation would be in the best interest of the child and can go to court to request visitation. Sometimes grandparent time can be included when making the custody schedule.