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Navigating The Hand-Off: Handling Your Visitation Exchange

by Marie Caldwell

The parents of minor-aged children have to take some additional steps when creating a divorce agreement. Generally, anything that involves a child is put under the heading of parenting plans. Read on to find out more about visitation and how to cope with exchanges.

Parenting Plans

Child custody, child support, health insurance coverage for the child, and visitation are under the parenting plan label. Visitation is offered, in most cases, for the parent that does not have full physical custody of the child. Both parents normally retain legal custody and one parent might be in charge of primary physical custody. The visitation agreement is not simply a schedule to follow — it's an order that must be adhered to.

Visitation Schedules

The plan should take into consideration the work schedules of both parents and the needs of the child. Parents should make every effort not to interfere with the other parent's time with the child or with the social, sports, or school schedule of the child. In most cases, parents can begin to use the visitation schedule before the divorce is final, and temporary custody and visitation orders are not uncommon.

Visitation Exchanges

Parents who don't usually get along well enough to be married to each other must still be civil for the sake of the children. The courts place a high emphasis on the well-being of children of divorced parents and parents need to avoid placing any more stress on a minor child than may already be present. That means making the custody and visitation exchange (and vise versa) go as smoothly as possible. Read on for some tips to help make that happen:

  • Communication is key. Texts and calls when you are running late shows not just respect but can also help alleviate stress on your child.
  • Back-up plans are important. Sickness and emergencies can happen to anyone. Be flexible about making up missed visitation time — remember, visitation is for the child and not necessarily for the parents.
  • Be nice to each other. Children can pick up on the tension between parents so be positive when speaking about the other parent.
  • In some cases, supervised visitation only is ordered. A third-party is present during the visitation, often in a public place. Along those same lines, the parents need not meet if they don't want to do so. A third-party may be assigned to be the go-between.

You can make visitation and exchanges work if you make an effort and follow your divorce lawyer's advice when you create your parenting plan. Speak to your divorce lawyer to find out more.