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What is a Child Visitation Schedule?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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A child visitation schedule is a calendar of dates detailing when a non-custodial parent will be allowed to spend time with her or his child. Such schedules are often drafted to help adults with issues pertaining to parenting after divorce or legal separation. Often, a child visitation calendar is ordered by a court during child custody proceedings and must be strictly adhered to in order to avoid a court penalty.

Unless a parent is proven to be a danger to a child, most jurisdictions allow and even encourage visitation between a parent and child. Parents or caretakers, however, sometimes find it difficult to communicate about issues pertaining to child visitation due to personal conflicts, particularly while undergoing legal proceedings to divorce or separate assets and liability. Sometimes, visitation issues are particularly difficult for parents to agree on when parents live a considerable distance from one another and either the child or the parent is expected to travel for visitation. When this occurs, a child visitation schedule is needed to clearly define the days, dates and times that a non-custodial parent is allowed to visit with her or his child.

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Child visitation schedules may allow for either supervised or unsupervised visitation. Such a designation is determined by a magistrate, and a child visitation schedule is drafted to reflect any necessary stipulations. Often, such agreements are drafted by court representatives with the input of both parents. In cases where the parents cannot reasonably agree, however, a court ultimately decides exact days, dates and times for child visitation, and parents are required by law to adhere to this schedule.

In situations where physical custody of a child is shared, a schedule may also be court-ordered. These unique schedules are not commonly referred to as a child visitation schedule, however, but are referred to as a parenting calendar or another similar description. When a child is old enough to contribute an opinion with regards to a parenting or a child visitation schedule, calendars are often amended to reflect the child’s wishes.

A child visitation schedule overseen and enforced by a court helps to settle confusion between parents, especially on important dates. A major point of contention among divorced or separated parents often revolves around where children will spend holidays. By predetermining a child visitation schedule for these dates, courts work to enforce fairness in scheduling and avoid placing a child in the difficult position of being forced to choose where she or he would rather be on important dates.

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