The best way to reach a child visitation agreement with your spouse frequently occurs outside of a California family law courtroom. In other words, it's a mutual agreement between divorcing spouses without the intervention of a judge.
A “reasonable” visitation agreement between parents is one that would not just be acceptable to the family court, but one that is primarily in the best interest of your child.
The mutual child visitation agreement should also cover:
- A possibility of a custodial parent moving to another location, and even out of state;
- A legal clause requiring notice be given to the non-custodial parent, including a timeframe when one parent wants to relocate with their child.
Parents who are able to remain on friendly terms could also agree on a written visitation agreement by making a draft themselves.
When one parent is going to have physical custody and the other parent will have partial custody and visitation rights, then there will be some decisions to make regarding where the child will spend their:
- Other holidays,
- Vacation time.
- Other family occasions.
Obviously, even with a child visitation agreement, the process of separating from your child will not be an easy process, but reaching a mutual agreement is often the best solution in a divorce.
To give readers a better understanding of figuring out child visitation outside a California court, our Los Angeles divorce lawyers are providing a detailed review below.
Creation of a Parenting Plan Agreement
One option for figuring out child visitation is to create a binding agreement, called a parenting plan, with your spouse which could reduce the stress and help you avoid make irrational decisions.
Creating parenting time could be the start of a successful relationship after the divorce. It's a written document that will lays out several crucial issues associated with child visitation, such as:
- Schedules of both parents;
- Schedule of the children;
- Contact information;
- Parenting goals;
- Responsibilities of each parent.
Of course, the exact scope of the parenting plan will depend on the family circumstances. Obviously, every family is different and the plan needs to be personalized where the primary goal is the best interest of the children.
If you have a parenting plan, it not only makes it easier for both parents, but will also make it much easier on the children.
When you have a set consistent schedule, then it will reduce stress, emotions, arguments and help you adjust to life post-divorce.
Child Custody and Visitation Mediation
Most California custody cases are resolved through informal settlement negotiation such as mediation, which is a non-adversarial process. In order to use mediation, you first need to know the basics of custody and visitation orders.
A mediator will meet with both parents in an effort to help them settle their dispute. Their primary function is to assist parents in creating an agreement on their own.
Mediation of child custody issues enables both parents avoid the stressful litigation of a custody dispute.
It also gives parents an opportunity to reach the common goal of their child's best interest. It should be noted, however, a mediator doesn't have authority to impose a solution. The steps involved in the child custody mediation process include:
- initial face-to-face meeting with the mediator;
- review and identification of the primary issues;
- discussion of potential solutions and negotiation;
- preparation and documenting child visitation agreement.
Going through a separation and divorce is frequently an emotional roller coaster, so getting a mediator involved can help you reach an agreement that serves the best interest of your children.
There are many advantages to mediation. For example, it doesn't involve lawyers or expert witnesses in a family law court.
Also, mediation typically produces a child custody and visitation settlement after only a few weeks. Finally, mediation improves communication between parents that can make them more cooperative with each other.
What Factors Should Be Considered in a Child Visitation Agreement?
In a California child custody and visitation agreement, there are many important factors you need to consider. Remember, you need to reach an agreement that works for both parents and the children.
Below is a list of factors that can have an effect on child visitation agreements and should be considered when you in discussions with your spouse over custody.
Child living arrangement and visitation schedule
Children normally like some type of flexibility in their living arrangements and need to know their parents will still be an active part of their life.
When parents live close to each other, it allows children to keep a regular visitation schedule without having to travel a long distance. This reduces stress and disruption to their lives and makes the post-divorce transition easier.
So, on the issue of a child living arrangement, you should consider the following factors:
- Which parent gets full child custody and who gets only visitation?
- Which parent will have the children full-time?
- Is there some flexibility in living arrangement?
Your visitation plan should also include how much visitation the non-custodial parent will get. Typical visitation for a non-custodial parent is somewhere around 20%. You will need to reach an agreement on:
- weekend visitations;
- pick-up and drop-off locations, and;
- if there are other visitations options during the week;
- child visitation with their relatives.
Summers, Holidays, and Vacations
Clearly, it's important for children to spend time with their parents during summers and the holidays. These are priceless memorable moments for both parents and children.
Parents need to make a substantial effort to not fight with each other over who gets visitation and when.
In spite of how each parents feels for each other, they need to remember that spending time with their parents is significant in the child's development and well-being.
Holidays and summers are important for children, especially for younger kids around Christmas, when they can decorate the house and receive gifts.
Other considerations for a child visitation plan include their education and vacations.
Finalizing an Out-of-Court Child Visitation Agreement
Part of the out-of-court child visitation agreement should include how to handle any violations of the agreement. Factors that need to be worked out include:
- If there is a violation in the agreement, will it then be revoked or just lessen child visitation?
- Is there any flexibility on how many times a parent can violate the agreement?
- If a violation occurs, will a family law court then be used to litigate a formal agreement?
After you have finally worked out all the details and have reached a child visitation agreement, you need to print a copy and have it notarized.
If you need assistance in reaching an out-of-court child custody and visitation agreement, call our family law attorneys to review the details and options.
Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles divorce and family law lawyers located at 15821 Ventura Blvd #690 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our office for a free case evaluation at (818) 528-3471.