Can we Set up our own Visitation Schedule?

Anything that has to do with your children can be especially difficult to agree on when you are filing for divorce.  Neither parent wants to give up time with the children or to pay too much in child support.  The good news is, if you file an amicable divorce, you can set up your own visitation schedule, as long as the court agrees that each parent has adequate time with the kids.

Many couples find that the traditional schedule of an evening through the week and every other weekend just doesn’t work for their family.  This could be because of rotating work schedules or a child who has special needs.  If you and your spouse can work out an agreement together, you may be able to get a much better plan than if the judge made the decision for you.

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If you and your spouse can stay friendly, you may be able to write a simple plan and then customize it as needed without going to court.  For example, you can write in the plan that your spouse will have the children every Wednesday evening, but if either of you works a swing shift, this day can be adjusted each week as needed.  The same is true for weekend visits.

Some families find that an overnight each weekend works better for their schedules and children than a full weekend twice a month.  Children who are in a lot of activities are often so busy that they can’t squeeze in a visit of that length, but they want to see their parent.  Plus, they are able to plan visits with friends if they know they won’t be gone an entire weekend.

Make sure your visitation schedule includes holidays, birthdays and vacations.  This may seem unimportant now, but when Christmas comes, you will want to know what the plan is without arguing with your ex.  Again, if you and your spouse can stay friendly, and live close to each other, you can make arrangements that keep everyone happy, such as lunch with one parent on holidays and supper with the other.

Remember that any schedule you write must allow time for the non-custodial parent to see the children regularly.  It also must be approved by the courts, so don’t write anything too crazy or hard to understand.  Make sure that holidays and vacations are addressed in your schedule before you present your plan to the judge.

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