As school starts up again, many parents are re-evaluating their current custody and visitation schedules to ensure that they meet the needs of their children and their families. It is not uncommon for circumstances to change over time as a child’s needs change. Furthermore, as children get older, they may become more involved in extracurricular activities, like sports, music, and other hobbies. All of this can necessitate a change in their visitation schedule with their parents.
But how do you go about making these changes? Keep reading to find out.
Examples of Visitation Schedules
When going through a divorce, you and your former spouse will create a custody agreement and parenting plan. These documents outline important matters, including how much time the children spend with each parent, where the child’s primary residence is, and a visitation schedule. Even when parents split custody 50/50, they still must establish a visitation schedule.
Examples of common visitation schedules:
- One week with one parent, one week with the other parent
- Two weeks with one parent, two weeks with the other parent
- Weekdays with one parent, weekends with the other
- Two days with one parent, two days with the other parent, and then alternating weekends
- The school year is spent with one parent, while winter and summer breaks are spent with the other parent
Visitation schedules are not standard and are decided based on the needs of the children and the family. Factors that can affect a visitation schedule include where both parents live, the parents’ ability to provide a stable home for the child, the child’s school and extracurricular schedule, the parents’ work schedule, availability of childcare, and whether the child has any special needs that require them to live primarily in one household.
When to Modify a Visitation Schedule
If you want to permanently change or modify a custody or visitation schedule, you will have to do it officially through the courts. Modifications are not for occasionally trading days with your child’s other parent or temporary changes to accommodate a vacation or a business trip. Instead, modifications should only be sought when a lasting and significant change in circumstances requires a long-term change to the current plan.
Examples of reasons to seek a modification include:
- A change in the child’s schedule or needs that render the old visitation schedule inadequate or inappropriate
- A change in employment for either parent that affects their ability to adhere to the current schedule
- Relocation, both closer to the children or further away
Another very important reason to request a custody change/modification is in instances of domestic violence, abuse, neglect, or when a child is in immediate danger.
What Happens When a Parent Doesn’t Use their Visitation?
There are cases in which one parent is granted visitation with their minor children, but they do not use it. For example, when the parents are given 50/50 custody, but one parent will only take the children on the occasional weekend, leaving them with their other parent a majority of the time. This can be a very frustrating position to be in. Not only is this very difficult on the children, but it can also have financial repercussions as child support is often determined in part based on how long the children spend with each parent.
When a parent consistently misses their visitation with their child, the other parent can file for a modification to the visitation order and a modification of child support. If you are in this situation, you should seek legal representation to help you with the process. The courts take changes to custody and support orders very seriously. An attorney can help you present your case to the judge and can help increase your likelihood of a positive resolution.
Enforcing a Visitation Schedule in Florida
Conversely, suppose you are in a situation where your child’s other parent isn’t allowing you access to your children during your court-ordered visitation, or your child is refusing visitation. In that case, you may have the option to petition the courts to enforce your custody order. As with modifications, the parent seeking enforcement should consult with an experienced lawyer before petitioning the courts.
Visitation issues and custody problems are very personal and are different for every family. For example, in some cases, the problem can be worked out between the parents without returning to court. Finding a way to resolve the problem outside of the courtroom can be beneficial to the whole family as it has the potential to reduce conflict. Working with a skilled attorney like ours at The Virga Law Firm, P.A., can help you determine your best course of action.
To discuss your visitation issue with a skilled lawyer, send our law firm a message online. We have helped many families deal with a wide range of custody, support, and visitation problems, and we are prepared to put our experience to work for you.