Visitation Issues in Divorce

During a divorce, if the parties have children, visitation will generally be an issue.  Obviously there is less of an issue when the divorce is uncontested than when it is contested.   The best plan for the kids is almost always to have the two parents come to some kind of agreement.  Regarldless of whether or not the parents can agree on whether or not they can live together, they should spend some time and think about how to best resolve the visitation for the benefit of the kids.

In a divorce case, there are generally four different ways that visitation is established: (1) by agreement of the parties, without any signed or written court order; (2) an agreed order, signed by the presiding judge; (3) an agreement worked out at mediation and held until the final hearing; and (4) a contested hearing on a motion for visitation which results in court ordered visitation from the judge.

If the mother and father are going to come to an agreement, the best idea is to look at the best interests of the children. The best type of plan will maximize each parent’s time, creating quality time with the children.  Kids are busy these days and parents need to work out a plan that considers school, outside activities, day care, vacation, sports, church, etc. Also, remember, teenagers may prefer to spend a good deal of their time with their friends rather than the parents.

Typically, in Tennessee, the parenting plans are alternating weekends for the day to day schedule.  Sometimes, the non-residential parent will also have an alternating week where one of the weekday evenings is spent with the children.  Six weeks of visitation in the summer is typical, with the parents creating some clause to allow for each parent to be able to spend an extended holiday with the kids.  The major holdiays are alternated.

Sometimes  you need to be careful what you wish for.  I have had parents complain that the were not getting enought visitation.  They say that the other parent is denying them visitation.  Then, we go into court and set up a system for monitoring the visitation and find out that it is my client that is not exercising the visitation.  Now, the problem becomes that the judge will punish that parent for wasting the court’s time when they aren’t really going to follow the plan.

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