Visitation Rights vs. Co-Parenting

FAQ: How does collaborative divorce address “visitation”?

The short answer to this common question is, “It doesn’t”.

Visitation is a concept from the traditional litigated divorce process. After the Court determines custody (i.e. approved living arrangements for minor children of the divorcing couple), it also assigns designated times and conditions under which the non-custodial parent gets to see his or her children.

If that sounds restrictive and rigid, you are correct – it usually is. A standard visitation schedule of “every other weekend” does not require much thought and is not built to accommodate unique needs of families that don’t have the typical 9-to-5 Monday-through-Friday work schedule. That includes firefighters, policemen, physicians and nurses who are subject to on-call demands, and executives with a demanding travel schedule.

Co-Parenting After a Divorce

So, how does the collaborative process get at the fact that parents will be living in different homes and kids can only be in one place at any one time? Instead of trying to fit your family into a box, we begin by asking, “How do you and your spouse want to co-parent?” Our team listens to what makes your family and your approach to parenting unique, takes your children’s needs and your work situations into account, and designs a co-parenting plan that is custom-fit for your circumstances. We avoid legal and dramatic tactics that would pit the two parents against each other and focus instead on creating a new model that will best serve the children’s interests in the long run.

Because of our expertise in this area, co-parenting plans that we create with our clients are quite comprehensive. In addition to the obvious logistics of where the children will live, those plans include:

  • A schedule of how the children’s time will be shared between the parents;
  • Details on how medical decisions will be handled in the future;
  • Specifics regarding contact with extended family on both sides, and
  • Process for making decisions that will affect the children’s schooling, extracurricular activities, travel and healthcare.

Building a co-parenting plan is vastly superior to Court-determined visitation rights, because the plan gives you a blueprint for decision-making and a guide for resolving tough parenting issues in the future. If you are interested in developing a co-parenting plan that will support your family through the divorce and beyond, reach out to us at Brazos Valley Collaborative Divorce Alliance for advice and help.

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