If you are the divorcing parent of a minor child, the issue of child custody and visitation will very likely be among some of the most contentious issues you encounter. Once custody is awarded, there is a good chance that a visitation schedule will follow. Although the name is a little misleading, joint custody means that one parent is the sole physical custodian of the minor child and the other parent is assigned visitation with that child. To help you better understand the issue of child visitation, read on.
Unless you and your spouse have agreed upon shared custody, which means a 50/50 split in parenting duties, you will have court-ordered visitation. This order is not meant to be a suggestion only; it must be followed, regardless. Do yourself and your children a big favor and ensure that it is a plan that you can follow, since making changes involves going back to court. Because the best interest of the child is so important to the family court system, failing to abide by the visitation schedule can create the potential to be in contempt of court or to even lose custody of the child, so compliance is vital.
While it is always possible to go back to court to make changes, the judge expects parents to deal with minor issue on their own, without wasting the court's time and costing you both money. A few minor, but common, problems follow:
1. You hate your ex-spouse's new love interest. Unless you can prove that your child would be harmed in some way from being in contact with this person, you must learn to deal with the their presence in your child's life. Your ex has moved on, and while you should certainly take an interest in the new partner's background, drug use, criminal past, etc, you cannot deny visitation based on your personal feelings about them.
2. Your ex-spouse keeps bringing the children home late, fails to show up on time for ordered visitation, has to cancel at the last minute, allows the children to eat "bad" foods, etc. These are all undoubtedly annoying but still fall into the range of minor issues. Remember, only reasons that impact the best interest of the child should be brought before the court.
That Sticky Child Support Issue
You may be legitimately enraged at your ex for failing to pay child support as ordered, but you cannot deny them their due visitation because of it. Child support and child custody/visitation are two separate issues and must be addressed separately. You should allow visitation, but contact the child support enforcement agency and allow them to take actions against your ex.
To help ensure a peaceful and uneventful visitation experience, discuss this issue with your divorce attorney. If you're still looking for an attorney, check out a site like http://gomezmaylaw.com/.