When children are involved, you can bet one of the hottest topics of the divorce settlement will be the custody and/or visitation rights of each parent. However, prior to the divorce being finalized, this is also a major issue. If the father leaves the home, it does not mean that he does not want to see the kids. Working out the details of visitation and overnight stays can be difficult at this time, especially if the divorce is being contested.
Both parents must realize that they cannot take out the marital problems on the kids. The last thing either parent would want is the children to think that the divorce was their fault for one reason or another. The parents need to put their differences aside, at least for the moment, to work out a proper visitation schedule.
As long as there is no abuse or neglect, the father’s visitation rights must be honored by the mother. However, the children’s normal schedule must also be considered during this trying time. For instance, if the father is moving out of the local school district, is it reasonable to disrupt the children’s normal week? In cases such as this, the parents may want to work out a weekend or evening schedule.
Visitation During the School Year
During the school year, an alternating holiday and weekend schedule may work out best for both parents. This way, the father has some quality time with the kids when he is off work and mom gets to have two free weekends a month. This will also give the children some time to acclimate themselves to the reality that mom and dad are no longer together without developing a bias against one of the parents.
Visitation During the Summer
During the summer, dad may be able to extend his visitation rights if the parents can come to an agreement. Perhaps the children can stay with him through Monday evening, giving him three days during his visitation week. If holidays occur during these periods, the parents can also work out alternating schedules.
If the kids are old enough and the father plans to fight for full custody, this is also a great time for the children to see what life with dad will be like. Remember, at a certain age, usually around 12 years old, the courts will bring the children in to ask them about their preferences in living arrangements. These times you spend with them now could go a long way in them asking to come and live with you on a permanent basis.