Common Visitation Arrangements for Children

Divorce can be scary for children because of the uncertainty that it brings. As a child watches their parents yell at one another and fight over assets, they often have no way of knowing what comes next. It is obvious that the parents will no longer be living together, but what will happen to the child, themselves? How will the child's life continue now that their family ceases to exist? These are difficult questions for a child of any age to be confronted with and parents should therefore do everything in their power to provide their kids with a sense of stability following the divorce. Parents can accomplish this by creating and maintaining a routine visitation schedule. A visitation schedule that is followed consistently will take the mystery and fear out of a divorce, giving children more confidence as they move forward.

Depending on what the court orders, parents may create a visitation schedule based upon joint custody or sole custody. Joint custody means that a child lives with both parents. Examples of joint custody schedules include: living with one parent every other week, spending half of the week with one parent and half with the other, and living with one parent during the school year and the other during academic vacations. In contrast to joint custody, sole custody arrangements mean that the child lives with one parent and then occasionally visits the other parent. The parent with whom the child lives primarily carried several different labels: primary parent, primary physical custodian, primary residential parent, and the like. The other parent is sometimes referred to as the visiting parent, the secondary custodial parent, the non-residential parent, etc. Examples of sole custody schedules include spending each week with the residential parent and visiting the non-residential parent on weekends, and seeing the non-residential parent every other weekend. There are a myriad of scheduling possibilities. Whatever schedule parents decide to follow, they should strive for consistency and show their children that life can go on in a predictable way even after a divorce.

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