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Creating a Child Visitation Schedule



If you have gone through a divorce or a separation, you may have dealt with issues of child visitation, child support and child custody. Whether you have sole custody of your children, your spouse has sole custody, or you both share custody, you may want to come up with child visitation guidelines, assuming visitation is allowed by the court.

Part of these guidelines is coming up with a child visitation schedule. If you were previously married to your child's other parent, this schedule will be part of the final divorce. Whatever your situation is, it is important that the visitation schedule and guidelines reflect the best interests of the child or children.

Types of Visitation

In most states, there are several types of visitation. The following are three types found in the New York court system and various other jurisdictions.

  • Unsupervised: Unsupervised visitation is when a non-custodial parent may see his or her child without a third party present. This type of visitation is often granted when the non-custodial parent poses no threat to the childs well-being.
  • Supervised: Supervised visitation is when the court appoints a third-party person to supervise visits between a non-custodial parent and a child. This type of visitation is only ordered by the court if the non-custodial parent poses a serious threat to the child.
  • Therapeutic Supervised: Therapeutic supervised visits are similar to supervised visits except that the appointed third-party person is a mental health professional. The purpose of relying on a mental health professional is to help work on the non-custodial parents parenting skills.

Creating the Child Visitation Schedule

If a court awarded one parent sole custody of a child, then that parent will have complete say regarding a child visitation schedule. However, if joint custody is awarded, then both parents will need to come together to create such a schedule.

Ideally, both parents will be able to strike compromises, so that the court will not have to intervene in creating a visitation schedule. However, if parents have a dispute and cannot come to an agreement, the court may make decisions on behalf of the parents.

One major factor in creating visitation schedules is whether the parents live close or far apart.

Schedules for Parents Who Live Close

The following is an example of a visitation schedule for when a childs parents live close to one another:

  • Every other birthday of the child from 5 p.m. of the childs birthday until 9 a.m. the next day
  • Every Fathers Day or Mothers Day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • On the birthday of the father or mother from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.
  • On odd years, the week of Spring Break from Sunday at 9 a.m. to the following Sunday at 9 a.m.
  • On even years, the week of Thanksgiving from Sunday at 9 a.m. to the following Sunday at 9 a.m.
  • 30 days out of the summer, from June 1 to August 1, with the other parent signing off on the specific days
  • Every other weekend throughout a month beginning on Fridays at 6 p.m. and ending on Sundays at 6 p.m.
  • A portion of Christmas day or Christmas break as well as New Years Day

Schedules for Parents Who Live Far Apart

The following is an example of a visitation schedule for when a childs parents live far apart:

  • Six weeks throughout the summer with the other parents prior knowledge of the dates selected
  • On the odd years, the week of Spring Break from Sunday at 9 a.m. to the following Sunday at 9 a.m.
  • On the even years, the week of Thanksgiving from Sunday at 9 a.m. to the following Sunday at 9 a.m.
  • Any time the other parent is in town assuming the parent provides two days' notice
  • The parent without custodial rights pays for all airfares and schedules all flight arrangements
  • The parent without custodial rights will notify the other parent once the child arrives
  • Telephone visitations every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In either case, it might be best to contact a child custody attorney to help figure out a visitation schedule.