In the vast majority of Arkansas divorces involving children, the parents will wind up with some sort of shared custody arrangement. Even in cases where one parent gets sole legal and physical custody, the other will usually have some sort of visitation right.
Sharing custody can be stressful. This stress is magnified when the couple disagrees about who is supposed to have custody of the child on a particular day, or how important decisions are supposed to be made when the child is with the noncustodial parent. Couples can help prevent this conflict by creating a visitation schedule and plan. Ideally, this should be done at the same time the divorce is finalized. The schedule can always be revised if circumstances change.
A visitation schedule works best when it accounts for all possible scenarios. So, in addition to regular visitation days, the schedule should also account for special occasions like birthdays, holidays, vacations and school breaks.
Of course, the parents’ needs and preferences are a factor in the visitation schedule. However, it is important to remember that the schedule is designed to serve the children’s best interest. As such, parents would be wise to take the following factors into account:
- The children’s age and emotional maturity, including the ability to adapt to change
- The children’s ties with friends, relatives, classmates and sibling
- The nature of each parent’s relationship with the children, including their ability to provide for the children’s physical and emotional needs
- The children’s schedule with regard to community and extracurricular activities
By considering all of these factors, divorcing parents can work to make a visitation schedule that reduces stress and protects the needs of their children.
Source: Divorce Money Matters, “Creating Your Child Visitation Schedule,” July 31, 2012.
To learn more about child custody and visitation after a divorce, please visit our Little Rock Child Custody page.