Patrick M. Noe, Jr., Attorney at Law
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Tips for creating a visitation schedule that works

Separating property during a divorce can be challenging, but trying to sort out custody and visitation between parents can be emotionally charged and feel like a win-lose situation. When parents cannot work together to determine a parenting schedule, the court must step in. This generally results in a lose-lose situation. Both the parents and the children involved lose because the schedule is out of your hands. The New York State Unified Court System has a number of great resources for parents trying to navigate a divorce.

In New York, visitation is defined as "the right of a non-custodial parent to be with a child." Even if two parents have joint custody, the child generally has a primary residence and lives with one parent more often. Joint custody is not about sharing the child 50-50, it is about both parents being responsible for the major decisions in the child's life. You will need to negotiate time with the other parent to work out a visitation schedule.

Things to consider in your parenting schedule

When creating your parenting plan, there will be many decisions to negotiate. This post is simply about determining time between parents. Here are some things to ask:

  • The first thing you should consider is the child's age and schedule and your own schedule. Younger children may do better with shorter time frames between parents because they need to see both parents more often. With teenagers, you may need to consider activities and school to determine a repeating schedule.
  • Once you have the basic repeating schedule, it is time to add holidays that are important to you, your child and the other parent. Who will have the child at Christmas or Thanksgiving? When does a holiday start and end? The holiday schedule generally takes preference over the repeating schedule. For example, Father's Day falls on a weekend when the child would be with the mother, but the holiday schedule outlines that the Father has preference on that weekend.
  • Then, you should consider vacations and special events. How will these dates affect normal custody? Do you want specified or unspecified vacation times? How much time should be given to the other parent when you need to add a special event?

Work out visitation to do what is best for the child

Instead of letting a judge determine your visitation schedule, it is much better to work with the other parent to create this schedule. Your attorney will have resources to help you find common ground with the other parent. Use this information to do what is best in your situation.

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