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What Constitutes “Usual” Visitation

What Constitutes “Usual” Visitation

By David L. Duff of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Tuesday, November 22, 2016.

In trying to determine a visitation arrangement that meets a non-custodial parent’s need to spend time with his or her children and, at the same time, satisfies the requirement of being in the children’s best interests, a myriad of factors came into play. How old are the children? Are they attending school? Are they involved in extra-curricular activities? Do you have “teenager issues” to consider? Are there geographical and travel issues involved? What are your own work and time constraints?

Fully recognizing that answers to the above, and other, questions will have significant impact on the creation of an appropriate visitation schedule, judges in virtually all of the Northern Virginia jurisdiction tend to consider the following scenario to meet everyone’s best interests:

  1. Alternate weekends, from Friday after school or work, until Sunday evening. If both parents live reasonably close to each other, the “weekend” is often extended to Monday morning;
  2. A weekday visit on the “off” week, usually for several hours, sufficient to at least have dinner with the children;
  3. Alternating the children’s “Spring Break” from school;
  4. At least two (2) weeks during the children’s summer vacation from school. Judges will differ on whether those two (2) weeks should be consecutive, or separate;
  5. Alternate Thanksgiving holiday, starting with the end of school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the following Sunday, which is intended to allow for out-of-town travel;
  6. An equal sharing of the children’s “Winter Break” from school, which, of course, includes the Christmas holiday. This is frequently handled by dividing the “Winter Break” into equal portions, with one parent having the children for the first half (which would include Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) in odd-numbered years, and the second half (which would include New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day) in even-numbered years; and
  7. Alternate federal holidays, which is generally accomplished by simply extending “weekend” visitation to Monday evening, if that Monday happens to be a federal holiday.

Parents will often want to add to the foregoing “usual” visitation schedule, arrangements for sharing time with their children on birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other special occasions. So long as both parents agree, judges will almost certainly include such variations into the “usual” schedule.

If you should have visitation issues, contact one of the attorneys at The Duff Law Firm for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. (703) 591-7475.

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