Every parent wants the best for their child, and unmarried parents who share a child may face difficult choices and challenges when setting up a visitation schedule. When an agreement on visitation with the other parent cannot be reached and the court must set a visitation schedule, a court examines several factors.
The court’s primary focus when setting up a visitation schedule is on the best interest of the child. This is often achieved through a consistent routine that maximizes the time the child spends with each parent and allows the parent to invest an appropriate amount of time and money into activities that benefit the child.
Some specific factors
Each custody case is different, but when determining a visitation schedule, a court considers the following factors:
- The age and developmental needs of the child
- The ability of each parent to provide a healthy environment for the child
- The promotion of continuing and frequent contact with each parent
- The ability and willingness of each parent to follow a court order
Additionally, courts look at practical concerns, such as the child’s school schedule and extracurricular activities, travel time involved between each parent’s household and the ability of each parent to provide a healthy environment for the child, absent of any abuse or neglect.
Special days, such as long weekends or holidays, are also considered when fashioning a visitation schedule unique to each parent’s situation. Professionals such as therapists or counselors may provide useful testimony to the court on one or more of these factors.
Although each parent may want to spend as much time with the child as possible, a spirit of compromise is often necessary in these situations. If it appears that one parent is attempting to thwart the other parent’s time with the child, they may be accused of parental alienation, which can negatively impact their own visitation.
Setting up a visitation schedule can quickly become overwhelming and more complex than a parent realizes. Help and support from a competent family law attorney can make the process smooth and straightforward.