When Your Ex Is The Visitor: Understanding Child Visitation

Unless you and your spouse are participating in a shared (or 50/50) parenting plan, one of you will be acting as the primary custodial parent, and the other will be assigned visitation. Once the judge signs the order, you will be expected to abide by the rules, so it's in your best interest to understand and abide by that visitation order. There are really very few good reasons to deny your ex visitation, so read on for a better understanding of child custody and in particular, visitation.

Two Parenting Plans

Nowadays, child custody and visitation arrangements are likely to be known as parenting plans, and there are really only two models to choose from. Shared, or 50/50 custody involves both parents taking on about 50% of the duties, with the child living in two different homes (in most cases, but some parents do agree to live in the same home for the sake of the children).

The other model is joint custody, which may sound the same as shared, but is not. Joint custody involves both parents sharing legal responsibility for the child, but the child lives primarily with only one parent. The other parent is awarded visitation. The details around when the non-custodial parent spends time with the child are usually tightly restricted and scheduled, but parents who have good relationships with each other after the marriage has ended may end up being more casual about the visitation, particularly for older children who may balk at the lack of independence.

When Issues Arise

It is when the parents do not get along so well that issues with visitation can arise. While the courts did approve of the visitation plan, they expect the parents to work out minor issues on their own. For example:

1. Your ex persists in bringing the children home several minutes late, even on school nights.

2. Your ex often has to cancel visitation due to work travel and other responsibilities.

3. Your ex sometimes allows the children to eat "bad" foods, like too much processed food and sugar.

4. Your ex is in a new relationship and you really, really dislike the new love interest.

All of these issues fall into the annoying but relatively harmless bucket, so don't waste the court's time bringing up things like this at a hearing. The court takes the best interest of the child into consideration, but be sure that the problem concerns serious harm to the child before taking action. For example, abuse of any type, any type of criminal behavior, taking the child without permission, etc. should be reported.  To learn more, contact your divorce attorney.