Your parenting time schedule, which is usually part of a court order, tells you when your children will spend time with you. In the past, this was called visitation, but that is really not a fair term. After all, you are the child’s parent, and you should be parenting your child when they are with you; you’re not just visiting like an aunt or uncle.
A court order may provide for “reasonable” parenting time. This means that the parents have to figure out the specific dates and times together. If parents are very cooperative, this will work; and it may even be best for the children.
Other times a specific schedule is better for both parents and the children. Again, the parents may agree to a specific schedule to be placed in the court order, or the judge may have to decide it. A specific parenting time schedule provides stability and reliability for the child and the parents, and most importantly, it is enforceable unlike a reasonable (but non-defined) parenting time schedule.
There is a wide range of options when it comes to parenting time schedules. Parenting time schedules range from supervised parenting time for a limited time such as one hour per month to equal time for each parent.
Many parenting time schedules address holiday parenting time. And again, there are many options that can be included in the court order. For example, one parent may love Thanksgiving and not care about Christmas, and a court order could incorporate those preferences.
When the judge is required to determine your parenting time schedule, a hearing will be scheduled. During the hearing you, the other parent, and other witnesses will provide the judge with testimony and evidence. The judge will decide your parenting time schedule based on 12 child custody best interest factors and the following parenting time factors:
Factor (a): Any special needs of the child;
Factor (b): Whether the child is nursing;
Factor (c): Whether abuse or neglect of a child during parenting time is likely;
Factor (d): Whether abuse of a parent during parenting time is likely;
Factor (e): The inconvenience and impact on the child of traveling for parenting time;
Factor (f): Whether a parent is reasonably likely to exercise parenting time;
Factor (g): Whether a parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time;
Factor (h): The threatened or actual detention of the child with the intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent or from a third person who has legal custody. A custodial parent’s temporary residence with the child in a domestic violence shelter shall not be construed as evidence of the custodial parent’s intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent;
Factor (i): Any other relevant factors.
If you are faced with a parenting time dispute, there are a few things to keep in mind to prepare for your case. An experienced family law attorney, like each attorney at Kraayeveld Law, understands how each of the child custody best interest factors and parenting time factors must be applied to the facts of your case. The Kraayeveld Law team will work with you to obtain results that fit your and your children’s schedule and lifestyle. Some other important things to keep in mind:
- Spend time with your children. If you have a court order, exercise all available time. If you do not have a court order in place yet, still ask to see your children, and document your requests.
- When you have parenting time with your children, actually spend the time with your children. Put away your phone, work, and be interested in their life.
- When you are not scheduled to have parenting time, you still may volunteer at the children’s school and attend their extracurricular activities.
- Do not involve your children in any dispute. They cannot relay messages for you; and they should not be aware of your disputes. You probably own a cell phone; text the other parent.
- Preserve and document your evidence. If you reach an agreement, do so via text. Snap a photo of documents, clothing conditions, etc. Again, do not involve your children.
- Respect your children’s and other parent’s time. Do not call and text your children incessantly while they are with the other parent.
- Comply with court orders. If you are ordered to take parenting classes, counseling, or take another action, do so regardless of how beneficial you think it is.
At Kraayeveld Law, we enjoy working with our clients as a team. We vigorously fight for our clients and their children. We invite you to join our team to obtain the best results possible for you and your children.