Parenting time (formerly called visitation) is determined in conjunction with a divorce, paternity, or physical custody of a child. Ideally, the parents can agree on how parenting time will be shared. If they don’t, the decision will be made by a judge or other neutral professional.
Parenting time typically has three aspects that must be addressed:
- Regular parenting time is the routine weekly schedule that parents and children will follow. There may be different schedules during the school year and in the summer.
- Holiday parenting time is usually set out in a court order in a table format. Normally, the children will alternate the holidays with the parents, using one rotation in even-numbered years and a reverse rotation in odd-numbered years. Not everyone uses the same holidays – some use only the major holidays, while others use school or legal holidays. Some include cultural holidays, others do not.
- Vacation parenting time may be included so that each parent has some vacation time with the child(ren) each year. Some require that it be taken in the summer, while some allow that it be taken any time during the year. The length of time, and how much of the time can be consecutive, often depend upon the age(s) of the child(ren).
Some people design a very specific and detailed schedule, while others prefer to leave it more open, saying that each party will have “reasonable parenting time as the parties agree.” It is often better to have a more clearly defined schedule so that both the parents and child(ren) know what to expect.
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