A parent’s right to be a part of their children’s lives is a basic right and the courts will only take away that right if they find a parent is a danger to their child and even if that determination is made a court will rarely deny a noncustodial parent visitation with their child. The court will more likely require that the visitation be supervised if they are concerned about the child’s safety. The court may require supervision by either by a children services professional or another family member. So, one way or another, both parents are likely to have to continue to cooperate in the raising of their child at least as far as visitation goes.
An agreed to custody and visitation arrangement is much healthier for the children and certainly is less expensive for the parents. An agreed to custody and visitation arrangement can be tailored by the parents to meet the specific needs of their children and fit appropriately onto the parents’ professional and personal schedules.
An agreed to custody arrangement can prescribe a joint custody arrangement or a split custody arrangement or establish one parent as the primary custodial parent and provide visitation rights for the other. The important factor in agreed to arrangements is that the children do not go through the difficult experience of watching their parents fight over visitation and custodial rights. It is clearly a healthier option to a full blown legal custody battle. The benefit to both the parents and the children is that the parents and not a judge will have control over the terms of the custody and visitation arrangement.
A parenting plan can be drafted to specify that the child spends summers with one parent and the school year with another or lives with parents on alternating weekends or specify visitation on specific weekends or days. The plan can detail which parents spend birthdays, holidays and other special occasions with the child. In short the plan can be as detailed as the parents believe it needs to be to provide a conflict free sharing of parental responsibilities.
All agreed to visitation and custody arrangements can be amended upon agreement of the parties and can be reviewed by the court if one of the parties petitions the court and shows a substantial change in circumstances from the time the agreement was drafted.
If the parents cannot agree the court can determine visitation and custody rights by a court order. Courts may consider the wishes of the child with regard to visitation and custody questions, if the judge believes the child understands the proceeding and can respond appropriately.
The courts and many parents and children prefer joint and split custody arrangements where the children spend extended periods of time with each parent or alternate week to week or month to month living with both parents. Maintaining a continuous relationship between a child and both parents is important; not only to the parent, but to the children as well. The specifics of the custodial and visitation arrangement may vary depending on the age of the child and the parent’s ability to care for the child over extended periods of time. The specifics are not as important the concept of both parents continuing their relationship with the child is the critical element of the arrangement.