Family Law Expertise When You Need It The Most

Nine Key Parenting Time/Visitation Issues in 2009

9. How specific a schedule do you need for parenting time/visitation? The better your communication and the older your children, the less specificity that you need.  

8. What is the typical schedule? The typical, traditional schedule has been alternate weekends from Friday until Sunday, along with alternate holidays consisting of Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Easter, sometimes New Years, Mother’s Day with mom and Father’s Day with dad, sometimes alternating or sharing the children’s birthdays and the children having the parent’s birthday with each parent, along with any other visitation/parenting time that is agreed to between the parties. 

7. How do you deal with vacations and school breaks? A typical schedule can be alternating or sharing the Christmas vacation. One example would be from the day after school lets out until noon on Christmas Day one year, for example, with mom, and dad having from noon on Christmas Day until the day before school begins in January that year, and then rotating it, along with alternating the Winter/February break if there is one, and the Easter/Spring break.

6. How do you handle Summer vacations? This can be arranged from the same schedule used during the school year to the non-custodial parent having one or two weeks during the Summer. In other cases, people will divide the Summer in half, or one parent will have the majority of the Summer, with the other having the majority of the school year. There are many possibilities.

5. What is “Right of First Refusal”? This is where the other parent has the right of first refusal if the first parent has a conflict or is going out of town. It is an area that often creates more problems than it resolves. Unless the parties communicate and it is spelled out, it can be a breeding ground for future litigation. Does Right of First Refusal mean that there should be a Right of First Refusal over day care? Does this mean grandparents cannot visit or pick up the children? Should it be limited to someone going out of town on vacation or for business purposes? The grounds must be specifically spelled out. Communication between the parties is critical.

4. What types of parenting time is utilized in a shared custodial arrangement? Examples are the 50/50 schedule, which includes one week on and one week off, with the other parent perhaps having dinner on one of the weekdays. Another schedule is called a 2/2/5. This means, for example, that mom has the children every Monday and Tuesday, dad every Wednesday and Thursday, and then the parties alternate Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so that the children spend no more than five days maximum away from either parent. This is a good schedule, especially with younger children.

3. Should there be different schedules for different aged children? Absolutely. What makes sense for an infant to two year old, is different than what makes sense for a four or five year old. What makes sense for a child in elementary school is different than a schedule that makes sense for someone who is eleven or twelve. Teenage schedules are very different, and quite frankly, with teenagers, often the schedule is not how much time the teenagers are spending with either parent, but how little time, and the fact that friends and school activities take priority over parenting time.

2. Communication regarding parenting time. It is important to communicate. You can communicate by phone, by e-mail, especially if you need to have a record of communication where communication is poor.

1. Flexibility. A good clause to put in your divorce judgment is one that says that parenting time/visitation can be modified as the children age, so that schedules that make sense for a young child, can be changed to one that makes sense for a child as he or she gets older. Again, the key is what is in the best interests of your children.