Going through a divorce when you have kids involves taking into account numerous factors to make sure your children’s best interests are prioritized. The biggest challenge for many divorcing parents is setting up a fair time-sharing and visitation schedule that works well for everyone involved.
Parents are encouraged to come up with this schedule themselves, with the assistance of an experienced family law attorney and divorce mediator, in lieu of having the court determine it for them. If you are beginning the divorce process, there are few things you should consider related to visitation.
Set up a regular and predictable schedule
Custody arrangements typically fall into two different categories: joint custody and sole custody. Joint custody allows parents to have roughly equal time with their kids and provides for significant and frequent contact. Sole custody involves the kids living primarily with one parent, while usually visiting the other on a regularly scheduled basis. When the children are in school, they should adhere to a consistent schedule.
When school is out for the summer or during holiday breaks, parents may need to modify the schedule accordingly. It’s also common for parents to schedule a certain amount of time for vacations with their kids. Sometimes dates are prioritized and determined ahead of time, and other times parents are flexible with dates, but prioritize the duration of the vacation.
Finally, holidays and special occasions need to be accounted for, often taking priority over the normal time-sharing schedule. These occasions likely require the most cooperation on the part of parents, and it’s important to account for the kids’ best interests and preferences.
Determine what type of visitation is best for your kids
In cases in which one parent has sole custody, it may be necessary to restrict the circumstances of visitation in a way that keeps the children’s best interests in mind. Depending on your specific situation, supervised or otherwise restricted visitation may be necessary. This can be a contentious issue and may require the guidance of an experienced mediator or family law attorney.
All children are different, and you’ll want to take the specific ages, personalities, interests, special needs, extracurricular schedules and wishes of your children into account when setting up a visitation schedule. Your goal should be to provide stability, routine and a sense of normalcy, even though their family situation is undergoing a significant change.
Remember that schedules can be modified
You’ll never know how a schedule will work out until you’ve tried it out, and while sometimes the agreed-upon arrangement works well for everyone in the family, it may become necessary to make adjustments. Ideally, there will be agreement about what needs to change and how, in which you can modify the agreement somewhat easily. If you cannot come to an agreement yourselves, it may require an arbitrator or judge to resolve the issue.
Divorce can be difficult on children, but by setting up a strong visitation and time-sharing arrangement, you can help your entire family move forward in a positive way.
BoltNagi is an established and respected family law firm serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.