After a divorce, the spouse who does not obtain custody can be granted visitation rights by the judge. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the ruling, and the different living situations of each spouse, the type of visitation might carry certain requirements with the ruling.
The different types of visitation rights have changed as technology has evolved, and in some cases, visitation might not even happen in person. We’ll be exploring the different kinds of visitation rights that can happen after a custody hearing, and how they differ regarding both the children and parents involved in the ruling.
Defining Visitation Rights
If an agreement cannot be reached between two spouses going through a divorce, a hearing will determine which party obtains custody of their children. For the party who does not receive custody of the children, they might be granted visitation rights by the court. There are several different types of visitation that might be decided by the judge or reached as an agreement between both parties’ attorneys.
Most often, this is the type of visitation granted by default to newly divorced parents. In this situation, parents can take their children into their own new homes or go out somewhere during the designated visitation period. Sometimes, there are limitations that are put into place before a visit can take place. This could come as a result of previous appointments, holidays, social gatherings, or family events.
In the case of supervised visitation, parents are allowed to see their children while another trained adult is present. This could happen if the parent has a history of criminal behavior or a negative experience while previously caring for their children. If the court allows it, the parent who does not receive custody can choose the supervising adult who will remain during each visit. On other occasions, there may be a requirement for the parent and child(ren) to meet at a specific location for the supervisor to fulfill their job obligations.
Recently, some courts have opted to grant virtual visitation if it is determined that seeing their parent in person would not be in the best interest of a child. This might be the ruling if a parent has to move a great distance away, or some other previous circumstance mandates that the child not see their parent physically and in person.
How to Schedule Visitations
If you are not the parent who has primary custody of your children, you will need to come up with a proper schedule for visitation rights when you wish to meet with them. Each state defines a proper visitation period differently, but they usually have legislation defining a “reasonable” amount of time to establish a stable relationship.
Parents are usually able to arrange their own schedule for visitation, but in certain cases, it might be up to a judge to determine the best available times for visiting. If necessary, a judge’s review will determine the makeup of a visitation schedule after reviewing all of the facts surrounding the custody hearing and the home life at both residences.
One typical pattern is to schedule overnight visitations every other weekend for the parent without custody. If children are finished with school for the summer, this period could extend to a few months at a time, depending on the time of year and the work schedule of the other parent. The only exception to overnight visits would be for the parent who has custody to demonstrate that overnight visits would not be in the child’s best interest.
If holidays enter the schedule, you’ll have to determine the best course of action for both you and your children. You and your ex should consider alternating birthdays every year, and visitation arrangements could allow you to celebrate your own birthday with your children. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be made exceptions if they fall on days that normally would be outside of the visitation schedule.
Transportation for Visitation Rights
Shuttling your children back and forth between homes can be time-consuming and can potentially take away the precious time that you want to spend doing other things with them. You’ll want to spell out in advance how your children are going to get from one place to another, and how visitations should be arranged through car transport or another method of transportation. A common example is for one parent to pick up the kids for a weekend on Friday night, and the other parent to come get them when the visitation is over on Sunday.
If you and your ex have problems with communication, or there is some ill will between you, it may do you good to schedule meetings at a public location. Most of the time, a curbside drop-off and pickup is the standard for visitation appointments.
If the visitation is long-distance, you will want to ensure the safety of your child when other vehicles such as a plane or a bus are involved. Check the laws for children traveling alone and see if they need supervision when arriving and departing.
Maintaining Visitation Rights
While no parent ever wants to give up the right to see their children, it’s not out of the question for parents to lose visitation rights due to a court decree. If a parent exhibits harmful behavior toward children or toward themselves, a court can decide that all future visits be monitored, or the court may revoke visitation rights completely.
Here are a few reasons why a parent might lose their visitation privileges:
- Mental capacity or sever mental health issues
- Emotional instability
- Drug or alcohol abuse problems
- Living with another person who poses danger or a serious threat to the child
- Incidents of domestic violence
In a situation that calls for supervised visitation, the supervision usually does not last forever. Parents might be able to work toward not needing supervision after the timeframe a court decides, and it requires a judge to decide if visitation should remain supervised for an isolated timeframe or be made permanent. This typically only happens in an extreme circumstance, such as physical or sexual abuse of a child.
Ideas for Visitation Days
Once you have visitation rights established by the court, you might want to consider some new and fun plans for your children. Consider some of the thoughts below when mapping out your time with your kids.
Your schedule will only allow you so much time with your children, so make some plans to maximize the time you have together. Look at the upcoming movie screenings, the home football game’s schedule, or find out what you can do around the house. If none of those pan out, you can leave the day open to improvising and take the kids somewhere new and exciting!
Follow Your Children’s Routine
Simple habits can help children learn to establish healthy habits on their own later in life. Keep your bedtime and mealtime routines consistent with the same time as their other home, and don’t deviate from them while they are visiting with you if your schedule calls for an interruption. Your own sleep schedule will thank you for it as well.
Stay Regular with Your Ex
While it might not be possible to communicate in the same way with your former spouse, maintaining a cordial relationship will help give your children a better transition from one home to the next during visitation times. Furthermore, you might discover a new habit that your child enjoys, such as a TV show or a new song. Let your ex know of this and see if they can incorporate this into their own home.
Keep a Regular Schedule
Your kids will look forward to seeing you at the same time every week and deviating from this pattern will upset them at a time when they should not be enduring any emotional stress. Maintain consistency in your visitation schedule and your kids will thank you for it.
Summary of Visitation Rights
After your divorce goes through, you may be subject to an evaluation of your living situation and the interactions that you have with your ex. You may end up with custody or visitation, and there are many types of visitation that could be granted to you depending on how the judge evaluates each side.
While no parent wants to be separated from their children for any great length of time, the process of divorce requires some sacrifices to be made on both parties for the sake of the children. By working with your ex and the courts, you can come up with the best possible solution for you and your kids, even if it means talking to them through a video screen if you’re on the other side of the country.
There are only some extreme cases where visitation would not be granted in any capacity, and these will only take place if a judge rules that under no circumstances should a child be seen with a dangerous parent. Talk to your lawyer, your ex, and the judge to determine which outcome is the best for you and your children!