Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”)
on Child Custody & Visitation Arrangements
McGraw Law P.C. Offers Answers on Child Custody & Visitation
Q: What are Some Common Arrangements for Child Visitation?
A: Child visitation, often in accordance to a parenting plan, can take a variety of forms or schedules. Some common arrangements include some of the following provisions:
- Alternate weekend visitation with the non-custodial parent, including “three-day holidays”
- Mid-week visitation with the non-custodial parent
- Sharing of the child during periods of school breaks: winter, spring, and summer
- New Year’s Eve, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with one parent or the other in alternate years
- Mother’s Day with Mother, Father’s Day with Father
- Alternate years on the child’s birthday
- Open telephone contact by the parent who does not have actual physical custody of the child
- Exchange of a few days of visitation here and there as agreed without the need for a change or modification of the court order
Q: What if Both Parents Agree on Child Custody and Visitation?
A: This is the ideal situation, where the parenting plan agreed upon by both parents is put into place. If the issue of child custody and visitation is not part of a court action, the agreement worked out between the parents is not disturbed. A written parenting plan signed by both parents is preferable for future reference, but not always necessary. This written, signed parenting plan can be recorded as a stipulation between the parties and issued for future enforcement purposes.
Q: What if Both Parents Disagree on Child Custody and Visitation?
A: Most states require mediation sessions for parents who are unable to reach an agreement on the issues of custody and visitation. In the mediation session, both parents meet with a third party, such as an experienced attorney or social worker, to discuss relevant factors to reach an agreement. Many contested issues of custody and visitation can be resolved in a mediation session. This session results in an agreement, which then are presented as a stipulation for issuance as a court order.
Should mediation of custody and visitation disputes fail, the parents can then pursue litigation of unresolved issues through a court hearing with presented evidence and testimony. Often expert witnesses, such as child psychologists and licensed social workers, will present evidence for consideration by the court. After the court receives such evidence, it is in a position to make an order about custody and visitation.
Custody and visitation disputes can be very difficult and expensive to resolve. An agreement by both parents is the preferred course of action, since a joint parental decision is more likely to work out amicably for all parties.
Q: Can a Prenuptial Agreement Contain Provisions on Future Children's Custody and Support?
A: Yes, but such provisions may not be binding. Courts have the power to decide on child custody, visitation rights, and child support, reasoning that parties cannot negotiate such issues well before the child is born.
Q: Are Internet Visits Counted Against My Visitation Time?
A: A three-judge panel of a state appeals court says no. In a ruling in January 2001, the court said that online visits through a website with video capability would not count against the father’s personal visitation time with his daughter, who was relocating with the mother to California.