There are a number of issues that need to be settled in a divorce, and for couples who have children, visitation times can be difficult to resolve. While uncontested divorces are generally easier, and more amicable, than contested divorces, resolving visitation times does take additional effort apart from the initial divorce settlement. This article will serve as a guide for how to move forward with your visitation schedule plans, and to ensure that you maintain a stable and healthy environment for your children.
It is initially important to establish the terms regarding custody: legal and physical. Legal custody means the legal authority to act on the child’s behalf and to make major decisions in their life. This includes factors like education, religious upbringing, medical decisions, and other concerns. It can be arranged to where both parents have joint legal custody. In these cases, both parents would naturally want a say in the major issues of child rearing. Otherwise, you will have one parent with sole legal custody. Physical custody, or residential custody, is the other term worth bearing in mind. That is where the child’s primary residence is established. Non-custodial parents can gain visitation rights. Usually courts try to make it so that there is a joint physical custody agreement.
One of the first questions you may have is the type of visitation schedule you would want to establish. You should want some regularity and stability in the schedule you set up, but the fine tuning does take some effort. In establishing a visitation schedule you should aim for a basic, repeating cycle of custody. Even if you have sole custody, you should try to find a balanced approach to the extent that each parent has equal time with their parents, especially if the arrangement would serve the best interests of the child.
Another concern you may have would be in respect to holiday visitation. Depending on family traditions, you may find that the holidays will warrant some changes to the regular schedule you have established. You and your co-parent will need to meet early to discuss plans for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or some three-day weekends. Some plans can see a division of custody during the holiday itself, having an extended number of days established for visitation. Some co-parents who have gone through an uncontested divorce are even able to do shared custody on the holidays, especially in cases where it would benefit the children.
Similar to holiday scheduling, many parents have questions about adjustments they will have to make when special events and vacations come up. Some examples of special events include athletic events that would require travel. There may be other similar events that pop up during the year. Then there are vacation travel plans. One of the ways that you and your co-parent can work around this is to allot a certain number of days for vacation, while giving adequate notification of when the vacation will take place.
Finally, you may have questions about visitation stipulations for things like transportation to and from visitation, especially if one parent lives out of state, any possible changes to your schedule that might come up, and how the child’s activities will affect the schedule. For long distance co-parenting, visitation schedules can take into account fall and spring breaks, Christmas vacation, and part of the summer vacation from school. Establishing these stipulations will help you to manage custody hours in a way that benefits both you and your children.
When designing a visitation schedule following an unconditional divorce in Madison County, consulting a family law attorney to edit or revise the schedule can make the process much easier on you and your co-parent.