When children are involved, a divorce can be more complex. Anything to do with minor-aged children deserves special consideration, and care should be taken to protect the child. Along with protection, however, is the need to allow a child to spend ample time with both parents. Read on to find out what might happen when one parent doesn't hold up their end of the visitation agreement.
Parents have several choices when it comes to child custody issues. It's always better for parents to make their own agreement rather than having the family courts do it. They usually are the best judge of what works best for their children. Child custody is divided along two lines, legal and physical. Legal custody addresses important overall issues that affect the child such as education, religion, discipline, and more. In most cases, both parents share legal custody equally or one parent alone has legal custody.
Under the heading of physical custody are several options. Given that both parents have legal custody, one parent might want sole physical custody. That means that the child will primarily reside with one parent for most of the time. The non-custodial parent then has visitation rights. There are a few custody arrangements that give both parents equal (or approximately equal) time with the child. This is called shared or 50/50 parenting. A relatively new custody choice is bird's nest custody or nesting. With shared and nesting custody, no visitation is needed since time with each parent is assured visitation because of the custody plan itself.
When one parent has primary physical custody, a visitation schedule should be drawn up and adhered to. It is not up to the parents to alter or interpret the plan on their own. If, however, they both agree to changes, it might not be necessary to have the judge approve of changes. In many cases, changes in visitation are the result of disagreements between the parents over some aspect of custody or the schedule. When things are not working, parents have two choices: to enforce the current plan or alter the current plan.
Enforcing the Plan
Parents who don't follow the plan may not understand the importance of complying, and that can often be dealt with out of court. Speak to your lawyer about sending the other parent a letter reminding them of the court-ordered plan and what might happen if they refuse to comply. Non-compliant parents can be held in contempt of court and fined.
Altering the Plan
You can take your custody and visitation plan back to court by requesting a hearing before the judge. Be ready to show how any proposed changes are for the benefit of the child (and not necessarily the parents). What parents should not do is to change things on their own. To find out more about dealing with custody and visitation issues, speak to a child custody attorney.