All divorces have the potential to be messy, stressful, and painful. When you add battling over children into the mix, and there’s no question why divorce is seen as the single most difficult thing couples can encounter.

As your Orange County, child custody attorney will remind you, creating a safe and positive environment for your children is of the utmost importance, even in the nastiest divorce cases. Part of accomplishing this goal is working out a viable visitation and custody schedule.

Types of Custody for Determining a Visitation Schedule

Before parents can determine a visitation schedule, they must first understand the different types of custody. Unfortunately, there are several different types of custody that can make the entire process seem more confusing than it needs to be.

In the legal world, there are two types of custody: legal and physical.

Legal Custody

Legal custody is when someone has the legal authority to act on behalf of or make major decisions for the child. These decisions could cover anything from schooling, what kind of religious upbringing they get, how to handle non-emergency medical decisions, and more.

In many cases, both parents have the power to make these kinds of decisions for their children. This is often called joint legal custody. When considering what is best for the child, both parents would work together to make important decisions.

It’s worth noting that both parents can have legal custody even if they do not share physical custody. That means that just because a child lives with one parent more than the other doesn’t mean that parent has sole legal custody.

When only a single parent has decision-making power, it’s called sole legal custody. The other parent certainly can maintain a significant role in the child’s life but does not have the ability to make major decisions.

Physical Custody

Physical custody, often called residential custody, is focused on where a child lives the majority of the time. Sole physical custody is when children live in a single location. The non-custodial parent may be awarded visitation rights or even be allowed to take the child overnight without physical custody.

In most cases, courts hope to award joint physical custody situations where children are split between the parents equally.

Most of the time, children live with one parent for most of the week, month, or year, and then live with the other parent for the remainder of the time. It’s not always possible or wise to grant equal time for each parent, so there is an endless number of possibilities.

How Visitation Works

When one parent doesn’t have physical custody, they are often awarded some kind of visitation rights. The end goal is that both parents get to be part of the child’s life. As any child support lawyer in Orange County will tell you, visitation comes in all shapes and sizes.

Unsupervised Visitations

The most common type of visitation is unsupervised visitation. The non-custodial parent is allowed to spend time with the children without any kind of required supervision. That means they can take the kids on an outing or even have an overnight stay.

Unsupervised visits give parents freedom but aren’t without limitations. Courts may set rules on how far away or how long these visits can take place. This is especially true when the children are still bottle or breastfeeding.

Supervised Visitations

Supervised visitations require that another responsible adult is present during non-custodial parent visits. The court will decide who is allowed to determine who is an appropriate supervisor. There may also be rules about where the visitation can take place in case a social worker needs to be there.

In the modern world, virtual visitations are becoming a more popular way for parents to visit with their children. Whether it’s over a long distance or during a global pandemic, virtual visits can take place with great frequency or ease. While virtual visits can’t necessarily replace physical meetings, they are excellent options in many situations.

A Successful Visitation Schedule Is A Vital Part of Your Child’s Growth

Having a set routine is one of the best ways to maintain successful visitations. While it may be necessary or helpful to adapt this schedule from time-to-time, you need a strong foundation with which to start. When possible, plan as far in advance as you are able.

Your visitation schedule will depend highly on what is awarded during your divorce. From there, look at the calendar and see what kind of routine makes sense. It could be visits on the same day each week, overnight on weekends, or something else entirely.

Make sure to look at holidays as well. You can take turns each year having the children on certain holidays or can keep the same ones year after year.

Along the same line, include details for any vacation time allowed with the children. That means deciding how many days are allowed for each parent to take the kids on vacation. You may even set limits on which months these kinds of trips can take place.

Another often overlooked element of the visitation schedule is deciding who is responsible for transportation to and from the child’s regular residence. You also want to think about what kind of notice is needed to make changes and how information about visitation between parents will take place.

Additional Tips To Consider

  • Always consider what kinds of activities your kids are involved in and what schedule will best fit their lives.
  • Consider discussing options with your children and address any concerns they may have
  • Keep in mind any logistics involved with transporting kids back and forth.
  • Never use visitation schedules as a way to punish or get back at your ex.
  • Be open to changing the schedule if it proves not to work.

Put Your Children First with Lemkin Law

Divorce may be tough on the couple, but it can have drastic impacts on the children. Something as relatively simple as creating a visitation schedule can make a huge difference in how your children adjust to their new realities.

If you’re not sure the best way to create this schedule, consider consulting with a child support lawyer in Orange County. At the office of Hollie A. Lemkin, we always put your children first while helping you explore your options. Give us a call today and take the pressure off of yourself.