Visitation it really parenting time, no matter what it is called. If you and the other parent were still together, you would be supervising the child, driving him or her places, and providing funds. It is no different now. Be a parent, not a visitor!
Child access is so important for the nonresidential parent. But it is more important for the child. It is also your time off. And the child’s time to visit with his or her other extended family, who will probably buy things for the child, cutting down the need for either parent to buy for the child. The more the lines of communication and access stay open to both sides of extended family, the more possible free baby sitters are available to you when you need. Most important, you raise a healthier child. All “visitation” should be called “parenting time” because a parent does not visit, he or she parents.
1. Is there a standard visitation schedule?
No, not really, but most common is alternate weekends, Friday evening through Sunday evening, and one or two mid week dinner visits, maybe a midweek overnight.
When the parents do not at all get along or trust each other, I like from Friday at the end of school or camp or childcare, to the start of school or camp or childcare Monday morning. I also like the mid week to be from the end of school or camp or childcare until the next morning at the start of school or camp or childcare school or camp or childcare the next day. Communication can then be by email. This avoids exposure of the child(ren) to the acrimony of the parents, by ensuring the parents avoid each other.
2. How easy is it for a parent to relocate with the children?
Every case is different, but in general, not very easy. The parent wishing to relocate the children will have to show that the move is in the children’s best interest, and not just in that parent’s best interest. If the issue is money problems, the parent will have to show that all possibilities of improving his or her finances here has been exhausted, unless it is due to nonpayment of support from the other parent. The comparison of schools and crime rates will also come into play, as well as the location of extended family and how much they are involved with the children. A big factor will be how often does the other parent see the children and participate in the children’s school life and other activities. A new spouse out of state is not necessarily a good enough reason. A better job out of state is not necessarily a good reason. Acrimony between parents might be a good enough reason, if the moving party is not primarily at fault, and the acrimony rises to such a level as to endanger the mental well being of the children. The distance is very important. The court is more apt to approve a relocation to a neighboring county than to another state or across the same state. There is even a case where a father only had supervised visitation pursuant to an Order of Protection, and the Court did not allow the relocation.
If you want to avoid your children being relocated, make sure to be up to date in your support payments (not supposed to be a factor but often is), use all of your scheduled time with your children, go to all their school events and extracurricular activities, and try to avoid any and all confrontations with the custodial parent and never talk bad about the other parent to the children.