While it may seem like joint physical custody of a child is becoming the norm, there are still many situations in which it is better for one parent to have sole physical custody of their child, while the other parent has visitation rights. There are a variety of ways in which visitation in California can be set up.
One option for visitation is for the child to spend overnights with the noncustodial parent every other weekend. Another option, if the parents reside close enough to one another, is for the child to have one weeknight visit or one overnight visit with the noncustodial parent each week. If the parents live far apart from one another, a longer visit during the summer months when school is not in session, for example a four-week visit in July, may be a good option. Finally, noncustodial parents may have visitation with the child on certain (but not all) holidays and other celebrations.
There are several things to consider when establishing a visitation schedule. Parents and children benefit from a visitation schedule that provides all of them with stability in their routines. Sometimes, it may help to start slow — perhaps an overnight with the noncustodial parent every-other weekend — and work your way up to additional visitation periods. In some states, each parent is to have as much parenting time with their child as they enjoyed while they were married. So, while starting slowly may help all parties adjust to their new normal after a divorce, working up to an appropriate amount of visitation time may be the ultimate goal.
It is important that parents do not hastily enter into a visitation agreement that may not be in the best interests of the child. Children need to be able to have a meaningful relationship with both of their parents. Thus, it is important that even if one parent has sole custody of the child, that the child’s other parent has an appropriate amount of visitation time with the child. Doing so can provide the child with the emotional support and care they need to grow and thrive post-divorce. Custodial parents and noncustodial parents may benefit from seeking advice on child custody and support before establishing a visitation schedule.