When parents get divorced, one of the most difficult challenges they will face is developing, negotiating, agreeing, and planning a visitation schedule within their parenting plan. If you are unaware, the visitation schedule is the practical plan for when each parent will get to spend time with their children. Structure is an incredibly important component in any child’s life, and a well-planned visitation schedule will go a long way towards helping them adjust to the upheaval that is occurring in their lives as a result of their parents’ divorce.
There are numerous things parents must consider when planning a visitation schedule that will work for their family, and we have listed five key points to think about below. Keep in mind, there are many more things you will have to consider beyond these five points, and how you approach your visitation will depend largely upon the type of custody arrangement that is established in your divorce. It is essential that you speak with the team at The Levey Law Group to ensure you create a plan which is customized to your unique needs. Give us a call today to learn more!
What will be best for your kids?
One of the most difficult things for any parent to do when working to develop a visitation schedule with their spouse is to set aside their own desires and think solely of the best interests of their children. Nonetheless, this is exactly what you must do. When planning your visitation schedule, you have to do your best to set aside your self interests and consider what type of arrangements will provide your children with the best opportunity to adjust to their radically new circumstances.
The changes will be much harder on your children than they will be on you, so you may have to make some sacrifices in order to ease the shock of the transition. The best interests of your children should inform every other consideration you make regarding the visitation schedule as well.
How will you handle holidays?
Holidays are always a key point that must be considered when creating a visitation schedule, and they are often a major point of contention between divorcing parents. After all, who wants to spend their favorite holidays without their children? As always, try to think about what will be best for your children, and do your best to consider your spouse’s wishes if possible.
If one holiday is clearly more important to your spouse than to you, perhaps you let that one go. Also, try to seek out creative or nontraditional solutions when you are unable to come to a more traditional arrangement regarding holidays.
How will you handle vacations?
Not unlike holidays, vacation time with the children is another commonly contentious point which must be carefully considered in your visitation plan. Since vacation time tends to disrupt the normal pattern of visitation, you may need to seek out creative solutions that everyone can agree upon. You could elect to alternate years in which each parent gets to take the children on vacation, or establish a set number of days each year that each parent can use to take the children on vacation—kind of like how some employers handle vacations.
Another solution could be to establish a specific window each year in which each parent can travel with the children. For example, the first week in June could be your week, and the last week in June could be the other parent’s week. Once again, consider what will work best for your kids and try to establish a clear and reasonable plan.
How will you handle special occasions?
There are going to be unexpected events that occur in both your life and the lives of your children for which you will be unable to explicitly prepare. Oftentimes these events will disrupt your established visitation schedule. You need to consider how you and your spouse will handle these situations when they arise. Set up guidelines for how to approach your spouse with a request to deviate from the schedule for a special event. Plan for the inevitability of unexpected events and special occasions.
What will your repeating pattern be?
All effective visitation schedules will be built on some sort of repeating pattern. You must consider when your visitation pattern will repeat. You will have to consider your custody arrangement, then figure out if you want the schedule to repeat every week, two weeks, monthly, or whatever works best for your unique circumstances. By establishing a repeating pattern, it will be much easier to plan out your visitation schedule far in advance. The better planned it is, the more prepared your children will be, which will make it far easier for them to adjust.
As you can imagine, visitation schedules can be incredibly difficult and complex to plan. There are numerous nuances and details which most divorcing parents are ill-equipped to recognize. Attorney Ken Levey and his team have a wealth of experience and in-depth knowledge when it comes to developing customized parenting plans that will work for your family’s needs. Give us a call today to discuss how we can help.