Parenting Time

Parenting time (also referred to as physical custody or visitation) is the designation of time of when the child will be with each parent. Generally, a specific schedule or parenting plan is appropriate so that each parent knows when parenting time starts and stops and allows for consistency for the child. There is no presumption that one parenting plan is better than another. There is no presumption that a mother is better able to care for young children. There is no presumption that a father should have parenting time only every other weekend and for a mid-week dinner, just as there is no presumption that equal parenting time is in the child’s best interest. The parents, or the court if the parents can’t agree, must decide the details of the plan. Again, the best interest of the child is paramount. Logistical considerations can be involved: for example, if the parents live on opposites sides of the Valley, an equal access parenting plan is going to be very difficult to accomplish.

Parenting plans should include specific holidays and vacation schedule for the child as well. Any special time for one or the other parents should be included in the parenting plan, to eliminate problems in the future. As difficult as it may be to think about spending some holidays without your child, it is much better to resolve these questions in advance, and not have to fight with the other parent about a particular special day on that day.

Parenting plans should be very detailed. What works for one family is not necessarily going to work for another family. It is important to discuss with your attorney your specific concerns so that a workable parenting plan can be created. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, ultimately the court will decide what the parenting plan will be. You may or may not like the specific determinations made by the court.

Parents must be careful to not involve the child in the dissolution of marriage matters. The issues the other parent has should not be discussed with the child. If you believe your child is becoming negatively affected because of what is going on with your spouse or the process, talk with your attorney. Going through this process is emotional and you should always try to put the children’s needs first.

Often, as the dissolution process continues, the communication between the parents worsens. There are options to deal with a difficult communicator or to try to improve the communication process, such as creating email guidelines. Oftentimes, a parenting coordinator, which is a neutral third party appointed by the court to assist with dispute resolution, will help with this. If communication is very poor between the parties, the court might require the parents to attend co-parenting counseling. Not everyone requires such communication intervention, but for those who need it, it can be extremely beneficial in refocusing the parties’ communication.

During the case you may feel that everything you do is being scrutinized by the other parent to show you are not a good parent. Schedule a consultation today to discuss the concerns you have about the other parent and the concerns the other parent may have about you, and the best way to protect yourself against what the other parent is saying about you.


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