Child visitation is critical for both children and parents after a separation or divorce. Not only does it help children build a familial bond with the non-custodial parent, but a parent has a legal right to maintain a relationship with their child. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for conflicts between former spouses to arise concerning visitation, especially early on when families are learning to readjust to a new living situation. In order for child visitation to be successful, both spouses must work together and follow some basic “dos and don’ts.”
What Are a Parent’s Visitation Rights in California?
In California, child custody can be “joint” and shared between the parents, or it can be “sole” and belong only to one parent. When physical custody is sole, or one parent has custody of the children more than half the time, the other parent will have the right to visitation. Custody and visitation can be agreed upon by the parents, or it can be determined by a judge based on the best interests of the child.
Visitation is also known as “time-share” and sets forth a plan for how and when parents and children will spend time together. There are four main types of visitation orders in California: (1) scheduled visitation, (2) reasonable visitation, (3) supervised visitation, and (4) no visitation.
When scheduled, parents will usually have a detailed plan that outlines the days of the week, holidays, and special occasions on which each parent will spend time with the children. A reasonable visitation order allows parents to work together to schedule mutually agreeable days or occasions to spend the children; these types of orders typically work best when the parents are amicable and willing to be flexible. Otherwise, disputes between the parents can easily arise and adversely affect the children.
If the children’s welfare would be in jeopardy by spending time with a parent, the court may mandate that time with children must be supervised by another family member or a social worker. Supervised visitation may also be ordered if the parent has not seen the child for a duration of time and they must become familiar with each other again. However, in some cases, a court will issue a “no visitation” order if supervised visitation would be harmful to the child.
What are the “Do’s” of Child Visitation?
Both parents must work together to ensure child visitation is a positive experience for their children. Parents must also cooperate with each other and avoid conflict in order to do so. Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent, here are some “do’s” to keep in mind regarding visitation:
- Do encourage your child to spend time with their other parent
- Do let your children know it’s ok to love both parents equally
- Do be consistent with discipline
- Do respect your former spouse’s parenting views
- Do be flexible with scheduling
- Do help your children feel comfortable in both homes
- Do follow a routine
- Do inform your former spouse if a significant other will be taking part in the visitation
- Do ensure that your former spouse has your correct contact information
- Do spend quality time with your child during visitation
Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that this time with your child also remains “parenting time.” Some parents may feel they have to plan fun excursions or purchase lavish gifts. But the most important part is spending quality time with your children, even if you’re just doing everyday things, and fostering a healthy relationship with them.
What are the “Don’ts” of Child Visitation?
Just as there are many “do’s” associated with child visitation, there are also certain “don’ts.” Significantly, to protect your right to visitation, it’s vital to always put the children’s best interests first and foremost. Regardless of the type of order in place, there are some child visitation “don’ts” to remember. If you engage in one or more of the below “don’ts,” your former spouse could potentially have grounds to dispute the current order in court.
The “don’ts” of child visitation include the following:
- Don’t talk badly about your former spouse or their new partner in front of the children
- Don’t make your children question their loyalty to both parents
- Don’t conceal your plans during child visitation from your former spouse
- Don’t make major decisions without the other parent during visitation, if legal custody is joint
- Don’t forget to communicate with your former spouse
- Don’t put your children in the middle of making arrangements
- Don’t withhold child visitation from the other parent unless their welfare is in jeopardy
- Don’t fail to show up for time with your children
- Don’t let other activities or obligations interfere with visitation
- Don’t use your children as a pawn to spy on or get revenge on your former spouse
If you get to spend every other weekend with your children or just a few hours each month, you should make sure that you don’t take time with your children for granted. Whether you watch a movie, run errands, or spend a day at the park together, the time that you spend with your child will create lasting and cherished memories for both of you.
Contact an Experienced Fresno Family Law Attorney
Child custody is often one of the most emotional and contentious aspects of any divorce case. If you are involved in a custody dispute or require assistance reaching a visitation agreement, a skilled family law attorney can help you navigate the process. Offering compassionate counsel and knowledgeable representation for a wide variety of family law matters, The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks strives to ensure a favorable outcome in every case.
The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks has been assisting clients throughout Fresno and the surrounding area in their divorce and family law matters for more than 20 years. To schedule a no obligation consultation, call (559) 272-8359.