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How to Make Reasonable Visitation Work for Everybody

Posted by Mattis Law, A.P.C. in Child Visitation

Visitation, also known as time-share, is a plan by which parents share time with their children. Visitation terms are included in a divorce decree. Reasonable visitation orders are typically open-ended and allow parents to work out between them when the child will be with each parent. To make reasonable visitation work for everyone concerned, parents must always put the needs and interests of the child first.

What Are the Advantages of Reasonable Visitation?

When reasonable visitation is ordered, parents must establish a parenting plan – a schedule with days and times for visitation. When parents cooperate, this type of plan works best, because it allows both parents to work around their respective schedules. In many cases, former spouses can create a schedule that works for both the child and the parents.

When Is Reasonable Visitation the Best Plan?

Reasonable visitation can work well for co-parents and their children, provided the parents get along and communicate well together. If there are disagreements and misunderstandings between the parents, issues may arise, and children may suffer as a result. For smoother going with reasonable visitation orders, parents should sit down together and make a visitation plan that works for all concerned.

Can a Custodial Parent Refuse Unreasonable Visitation Requests?

The term “custodial parent” refers to the parent with whom the child spends the majority of time. Non-custodial parents also have rights and responsibilities. Family courts in California prefer to give children equal time with both parents when appropriate. A custodial parent has a right to refuse unreasonable requests for visitation from the non-custodial parent, as well as requests that are not made in a timely manner. However, a custodial parent should never deny a request for visitation simply because he or she is upset with the other parent for some reason.

Why Should You Avoid Making Negative Comments About the Other Parent?

Badmouthing the other parent puts children in an uncomfortable position and has a negative effect on their well-being. A child may end up feeling angry or hurt toward one parent or both. It is important for parents to avoid making gratuitous negative comments about each other when the child is present. Refrain from making any remarks around the child that involve:

  • Name calling
  • Blaming the other parent
  • Questioning or criticizing the other parent’s judgement
  • Disparaging or demeaning the other parent
  • Relaying false or negative information about the other parent

What Happens If Reasonable Visitation Is Not Working?

Both parents need to be responsible and communicate well to make reasonable visitation work. If one parent skips scheduled visits, is frequently late, or fails to inform the other parent in advance about plans to take the child, it may not be working. In that case, a parent can go back to the court and ask that visitation be changed. Either the parents must reach an agreement together about the new visitation schedule, or the judge will order one. A visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent may include:

  • Every other weekend
  • Either Easter and New Year’s or Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • Five continuous weeks during the summer
  • Unlimited electronic and written communication

Do You Need a Lawyer?

Custody and visitation are among the most critical issues in a divorce. As a parent, you naturally want continued quality time with your child and the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing. An experienced San Diego family law attorney can help you obtain a legally-binding child custody agreement that is in the best interests of you and your child.

At Mattis Law, A.P.C., we have been helping parents in San Diego for years. For sound legal guidance and effective representation in child custody and visitation matters, call us at (858) 458-9500.

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