Negotiating Child Visitation Arrangements

Photo: vj_pics@Flickr
Photo: vj_pics@Flickr

Custody & Visitation

When getting a divorce, one of the most difficult things to agree upon is custody and visitation. In many cases, both the mother and the father want to have custody of the children.

While it was once rare for the man to get custody of the children, times are changing and men are more commonly winning custody because it is in the best interest of the children. Regardless of who retains custody, however, decisions must be made about visitation.

Making Visitation Decisions

Making decisions about visitation can be a difficult process that depends upon a number of different factors. Obviously, the courts and the parents need to think about what is best for the children.

At the same time, each parent has a different schedule as determined by employment. In addition, the city and state in which the parents decide to live can have an impact on visitation.

If one parent lives in California and the other lives in New York, arranging for weekend visitation is certainly out of the question. Therefore, there is no one simple answer to visitation.

Exploring Visitation Options

Your options for visitation arrangements is varied and dependent upon your unique situation. Some of the most common options include:

  • Weekend Visitation - With weekend visitation, the custodial parent keeps the children during the week while the other parent gets them on the weekends. For some parents, this arrangement is undesirable because the weekday parent feels as if he or she is saddled with all of the responsibilities of school and activities while the weekend parent gets to have the children for the "fun" time. For this reason, a more common weekend visitation arrangement is for the custodial parent to keep the children during the week and to share the children every other weekend.

  • Weekday Sharing - If both parents live in the same town, it is possible to share custody during the weekday. Some children alternate each night with a different parent, though this arrangement can make it difficult for the children to feel a sense of stability since they are moving from one home to the next each evening. Therefore, most parents with this arrangement choose to have the children spend a few nights in a row at each home.

  • Summer Vacation - If the parents live far away from each other, they may decide upon summer visitation. In this scenario, the children stay with the custodial parent through the school year and part of the summer, but spend the majority of the summer with the other parent.

    Some parents that live near to each other also choose this scenario simply because it provides more stability for the children, though it does require the children to go for longer spans of time without seeing the other parent.

Holiday Visitation

When determining a visitation schedule, holidays are also taken under consideration. If the parents live near enough to each other, they generally share the holidays, with the children alternating holidays with their parents.

The alternative schedule often changes from one year to the next. For example, the mother might get the children for Christmas one year while the father gets them for Christmas the next year.

Working out a visitation schedule is not easy for anyone involved. After all, both parents will want to have the children as often as possible and the children won't want to have to choose between parents. Nonetheless, it is something that must be done and, for the sake of the children, needs to be adhered to as strictly as possible.

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Comments 8 comments

Gregorythompson profile image

Gregorythompson 8 years ago from Illinois

I recently had to go through this and lucky for me my ex and I were pretty amicable about the whole thing and I can pretty much see him whenever I want! I'm sure it doesn't always go like this.


michaelk profile image

michaelk 8 years ago Author

That's great. Even when everyone is being civil to each other, it's still a tough time. Spending time with the kids through it all is so important and I'm glad you get that chance.


Vanessa 7 years ago

Where do I start? I'm a mother of a 5 year old and I feel trapped. I love being a mother and I adore my child however, I don't enjoy living in the state I've been living in for basically my whole life. I've had such terrible experiences here and I just want to grab my things and my child and move to another state. I just don't see it happening. I say that because my chllds father also lives in this state and is as obsessed w/ our child as I am. I am not one of those mothers who wants to keep the child away from the other parent. I want my child to have her father in her life and try my best to keep a smile on my face about the whole situation for her sake. But I feel that I am going to explode one day. If I move to another state how are we going to work out visitation?


Lisa 7 years ago

Hey Vanessa,

I'm in a similar situation. I feel as though I'm trapped in this state because of her father pushing his rights and going to court. He is requesting frequent visits and a joint arrangement. He has repeatedly told me that I'm taking her away from him if I move. This is not the truth. I'm in school and when I graduate I really don't want to be limited in where I go to find a position pertaining to my major. I feel like father's rights have gone a bit too far. I definitely can relate to your situation. I think if the judge sees it as the child's best interest, you are able to relocate just as long as you have steady income and home for him/her. The best of luck!


7 years ago

Vanessa, commonly when parents live in another state from each other, your child would likely spend the summer with him and with you during the rest pf the year. I am in a situation where, right now, I am only willing to provide supervised visitation to my son's father because of his excessive drinking habits. Right now, it's fine, but I worry he might get tired of it and request more. I am not trying to keep him away from my son but want him to be in the best and most stable environment. Best of luck to you all!


Anna 6 years ago

My daughters father is taking me to court for visitation because I have moved out of state. He rarely came to see her the three years that we lived in New York. I know this is all about his parents who live in Georgia. I believe he will get the court ordered visitation, take and leave Jenna with his parents while he returns to his NY, then when the summer visitation is over, fly back to GA, pick up our daughter and return her to me in Ohio. My question is can the parent LEAVE the child during his visitation period?


Courtney 6 years ago

I am an African-American woman living in Ireland, I am not married to the father of my 2 young children and it is very unlikely that I will ever be able to return to the US with my children... I have no family here and I findit very unfair as my ex visitation is the only thing keeping me here.

What is the likelihood I could ever return to the states ?


Janna Jones profile image

Janna Jones 6 years ago

Interesting. I really think that couples should put down the hatchet when it comes to visitation. Just work together for the children.

Being raised in a divorced family, and myself going through a divorce, its just not pretty. I imagine, at least for the children, it will depend a lot on their personality and ability to overcome the onslaught of negative from both parents. Just love your children...that means protecting them from you too!

When I was a toddler, my father left Texas and went to Georgia to come see me, (my mother violated the divorce agreement by leaving Texas). I was still in diapers...I'm 60 now and i remember it well. Pop told my mother he was taking me to a movie and eat...but we headed to the hotel, packed and off we went...fast track back to Texas. Over the years we both laughed often... referring that day to the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. Mother was....Pissed...I remember that too!

Additionally, when I graduated from High School, my mother came to my fathers house. It was the first time I ever saw them together without her Bitching him out.

The final outcome?

When my Father Died...Part of me Died

When Betty Died...I don't know...we had not spoke in 27+ years!

When you use your children as Divorce Pawns, look out...You may loose!

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