Sena Family Law & Mediation Practice

What is reasonable visitation, and do you have a say?

When things took a downhill turn in your marriage, you began to think that the road ahead may, at some point, include divorce. Like most good parents, you immediately worried about the impact such circumstances would have on your kids. For instance, would they have to move to a new neighborhood or attend some other school in California or another state, perhaps? The last thing you wanted to do was mess up your kids' lives, but you realized your marriage wasn't going to last a lifetime, as planned.

Things progressed rather quickly from there. You and your spouse made the decision to split, and you broke the news to your kids. Moving forward, your central focus is how to protect your rights because it is likely that you will be the non-custodial parent. There are many issues to resolve, such as custody, visitation and child support; you're especially concerned about the visitation part because you don't quite understand the legal term "reasonable visiting schedule." Just remember that support is available to ensure that you get a fair deal.

What does reasonable mean regarding visitation?

California and all other states have guidelines that govern family law issues, such as custody, child support or visitation. Although some state guidelines may be similar, it's critical that you seek clarification of the recommendations in your own state because it will directly impact your particular situation. The following facts can help you make informed decisions and know where to turn for assistance when needed:

  • When a judge tells you to come up with a reasonable visitation plan, it means the court expects you and your former spouse to devise a parenting plan that includes an acceptable/reasonable amount of scheduled visits between the non-custodial parent and the children.
  • In most states, if you are not the custodial parent, the scales of decision-making power may slightly tip in the other parent's favor. This is because a custodial parent typically has the most say about what he or she considers an acceptable visitation plan.
  • If you do not agree with a proposed plan, you have every right to speak up and try to negotiate more satisfactory terms.
  • If you believe your former spouse is acting out of spite to reduce your number of visits with your kids, you can seek outside support to help rectify the situation.
  • It's always easier to execute a fair and agreeable parenting plan when both parties are willing to cooperate and compromise, as needed.

The California court is generally of the opinion that your children (and all kids of divorce) may fare best when they're able to spend ample time with both parents after a marriage has ended. If you and your spouse can't achieve an amicable agreement, you may seek the court's intervention to make custody, support and visitation decisions for you. Just remember that everyone involved must adhere to any ruling the court hands down.

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