by the attorneys of Cordell & Cordell, P.C.
Not every parent is granted primary physical custody or determines that retaining physical custody is in their child’s best interest. If you are not awarded physical custody or determine that it is in your child’s best interest that he or she should live with their mother the majority of time, there are still issues you need to consider in setting your visitation time with your child. Remember you want to maximize the time you do spend with your child.
First, I have had numerous clients tell me that the parties have agreed to just decide as they go as to the schedule. Dad will see the child whenever he likes. Or mom will let me see him on my off days. The parties are getting along now and they do not think scheduling visitation will be a problem so there is no need for a schedule. I always advise them that a “fall-back” schedule is needed.
It is great if the parties are getting along, and the last thing we want to do is create problems. However, I can almost guarantee that when one of you start seeing someone new or life starts working out better than the other party’s life problems will arise. It is always best to have sometime of schedule to “fall-back” on. Language can be inputted that the parties will agree as they go but in case of disagreement this is the schedule they agree to. This applies to holidays too.
Next, consider your child’s schedule. Is he is school? What are the hours, holidays, when does school get out? Is he involved in activities? You may not want to schedule your Wednesday visitation if he takes karate lessons on Wednesday as you will be limiting your time with your son. Your child’s activities will change throughout the year so do not only think about the school year but also the summer months. However, if your daughter plays softball on Tuesdays you may want her Tuesday so you can be with her after her game and talk shop.
Consider your schedule. If the factory you work at has a mandatory shut down two weeks in the summer that is a prime time to have your daughter additionally. Also, if you work shift work and you do not have to be in until Monday afternoons instead of the weekend ending on Sunday night, why not keep your daughter until the next morning. Look at your schedule and think about additional ways you can spend time with your child.
Finally, consider what holidays are important to you and how you celebrate such days. Not only your immediate family but also think about your extended family. For instance, some families get together every Friday after Thanksgiving it may be important for your have you child that day and forgo Thanksgiving Thursday. You are not required to simply alternate the holidays but can think about the holidays that are important to you and how and when you celebrate them.
It is important to evaluate your child’s schedule and your schedule and determine the best way to maximize the time you have together. You may not have your child the majority of the time, but by considering these issues the time you have your child can be beneficial to you both.