When married couples with children divorce, they must determine who will be the primary caregiver. If a judge awards full custody to one parent, the children will reside with that parent most of the time. The other parent is typically provided with some child visitation rights. While going through the divorce process, many couples wonder how much visitation is normally granted.
There are several types of visitation rights and joint custody is popular because it features some flexibility. When parents receive joint custody, they decide the visitation schedule. The goal is to allow the children to spend time separately with each parent. Reasonable visitation can occur during joint custody or when one parent is granted sole custody. The parents determine reasonable places and times for children to visit one or both parents, developing a schedule that may change daily or weekly.
Fixed visitation involves a consistent schedule determined by the parents or the court. If one parent is awarded sole custody and the other is considered a threat or dangerous to the child, supervised visitation with a third party present, such as a counselor or therapist, may be the only acceptable arrangement.
In an amicable divorce, parents may make a mutual decision regarding visitation rights. If the parents are not in agreement, a judge will make the visitation decision. All parties involved must testify and factors like testimony from the child, which parent serves as the primary caregiver to-date, and the criminal background of the parents may carry weight. One or both parents may petition to change the visitation agreement by revisiting the judge who initially made the decision.
In most cases, the mother is awarded primary custody and the father is granted either another form of custody or some visitation rights. Most states award the equivalent of 20 percent of total parenting time as scheduled visitation for the non-custodial parent. This may be scheduled various ways, based on what works for the family. For example, one weeknight each week, every other weekend, some holidays, or a two to six-week period during the summer.
Establishing a consistent routine is important for children of any age, especially those who are products of divorced families. Many couples seek the assistance of a child visitation lawyer when determining the visitation schedule. This legal professional fights for visitation rights for a client, helping the parent to get the time he or she deserves to spend with the child.