If you have children and are separated or divorced from the other parent, chances are you have a visitation arrangement of some kind. It might be a simple understanding with no concrete terms, or it might be spelled out in detail and contained in a written Virginia court order. Whatever the case, it is important for separated parents to be open-minded about what visitation arrangement is best for their child. After all, kids change as they grow up, and what works today might be broken tomorrow.
We frequently have folks come to us with one question: How do I figure out what visitation arrangement is best? Unfortunately, we cannot answer that one for you. There is no person better equipped to answer that question than you, the parent. You have unique knowledge about your child, and about the kind of relationship (or lack thereof) they have with the other parent. Only you will know if the right arrangement for your child requires a dozen provisions to iron out every possible scenario, or if the right arrangement is to leave the options open at all times.
Common General Visitation Arrangements:
- “Every Other Weekend” – very typical for school-aged children, this arrangement normally provides the non-custodial parent with visitation on alternating weekends, usually from Friday evening to Sunday evening. Additional visitation time could include weekday dinner visits or participation in extracurricular activities.
- “Fifty/Fifty” – also referred to as joint physical custody, this arrangement provides each parent with an equal amount of visitation time with the child. Often, this is week-on week-off. However, some parents split the week and alternate weekends, while some alternate every day. There are also some parents who get limited time during the school year, but get the entire summer and most holidays in order to achieve a true fifty/fifty arrangement.
- “Shared” – a shared visitation arrangement (also called shared physical custody) describes a situation where both parents have a substantial amount of visitation time, though not necessarily fifty-fifty. For example, a parent who receives three-weekends a month during the school year, and every other week during the summer would usually be considered to have shared custody of their child. As you can imagine, the types of visitation arrangements that fall under this category are numerous and often times very creative.
- “Supervised” – a supervised visitation arrangement in Virginia is a situation where the non-custodial parent’s visitation time must be supervised by another person. This is usually a third-party relative, though it may be the other parent or even a formal facility that provides supervision.
(Note: the phrase “general visitation” is often different from holiday and summer visitation. Many parents will have an additional visitation arrangement for major holidays, and allot additional visitation time during the summer months.)
If you are looking for factors to guide your decision, it might be helpful to glance at the “best interests statute” (Va. Code 20-124.3), which sets forth the factors that Virginia judges are required to consider when determining a visitation arrangement. However, you are not limited by these factors. Use your best parenting skills to figure out what visitation arrangement would best suit your son or daughter. Even if you cannot reach an agreement with the other parent, at least you will be prepared to articulate your desired outcome to your attorney, or to a judge or mediator.
If you have a questions about your child visitation case, it is important to speak with an experienced Virginia family law attorney. The lawyers at BoykoNapier are experienced in all types of family law and divorce cases, including child custody, visitation and support. Our attorneys represent clients throughout Central Virginia, including Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover and the surrounding localities. Call BoykoNapier at (804) 658-3418 to schedule a consultation, or contact us via email.