Custody Or Visitation? What To Know

Divorcing parents have a major task ahead of them if they have children. Your minor children will play a large part in your divorce, and there are several issues that need to be settled. Taking some time to consider your choices and plan for the future will save you time in front a judge, so read on for some issues to learn about and decide upon now.

What about parenting plans?

What used to be called child custody and visitation are often referred to in the family court system collectively as parenting plans. A parenting plan includes any number of variations on several different types of custody and a plan for visitation if the custody plan involves having one custodial parent. While it seems there are new custody variations every day, a lot of parents will end up choosing between the two below.

1. Joint custody

This form of child custody appoints one parent to be the main caregiver for the child. The other parent is awarded visitation, and the amount and exact makeup of visitation are up to the parents. Both parents are actually still legally responsible for the child, but the non-custodial parent has to follow the visitation plan nevertheless. If major decisions about the child's education, discipline, religion, and other major components of an upbringing need to be made, both parents are expected to make them together.

2. Shared custody

Also known as 50/50 parenting, this form of child custody counts on both parents to take an almost equal share of both the day-to-day care of the child and the major decision-making. While both parents are expected to get equal time with the child, it may be that one parent has custody during the week and the other parent from Friday after school to Sunday night. It's important to keep the plan simple and not cause the child to be confused or more stressed due to having two separate living spaces and situations.

What to know about visitation

If you choose to go with a plan that gives one parent custody, the other parent will be ordered to pay child support. What many parents fail to understand is that child support and visitation are not connected issues. In other words, if the non-custodial parent fails to make child support payments as agreed, then the custodial parent has no right to prevent visitation. Action should be taken by contacting the support enforcement agency in your area, and visitation should proceed as agreed.

No issue concerning minor children can be considered final by the courts. As children mature, their needs change, and custody and visitation plans may need to be revisited for a tweaking. Be sure that any changes you are requesting to be made are in the best interest of the child and not just the parent or parents.

To learn more about custody, visitation, and child support, use resources such as