One of the hot button issues for any divorce where children are involved is child time sharing. Of course, especially where the divorce is not amicable, disputes arise about how frequent and how long visits will be between parents. If joint custody is awarded and the child spends significant time with each parent, bonds can be maintained, but what happens if one parent moves away or if physical custody is given to one parent an the other is given visitation rights? The goal is to keep strong bonds between the child and both parents.
If the child is an infant, the goal in scheduling visits is frequency and predictability. Children who have more frequent visits with a parent may tolerate longer visits. If the parent lives a distance from the residence of the child and cannot visit frequently, the visits will probably be limited to one or two hours. Toddlers can deal with longer visits, although overnights should not occur until the child is three. If the child is bonded to the non-custodial parent, older toddlers may be allowed to spend a few days to a week on a visit.
By the time children are five, they can tolerate longer times away from the custodial parent, and may be allowed to spend weekends, holidays or even summer vacations with the non-custodial parent. Experts recommend that during this time the child should be given phone contact with the custodial parent, perhaps even video calls.
Visitation for older children becomes more complex. School-aged children need to develop peer relationships and engage in extra-curricular activities like sports. Teenagers may want less visitation. Flexibility is the key.
When parents are in constant conflict, the court may reduce the visitation times, and attempt to reduce the number of transitions from one parent to the other. Visits are usually mandated at neutral locations, the same place each time. Conflict between parents, interstate travel and even custody between national borders can make child time sharing difficult for everyone. Of course, when there are two courts involved, one in the state of residence and the other in the state where the non-custodial parent lives, it may be hard to determine which court has jurisdiction.
The goal is to protect the child/parent relationship.
If you are involved in a divorce and are concerned about maintaining parental bonds with your children, contact us.