Definition of Visitation
Visitation is the agreed upon schedule for seeing a child after the child’s parents separate or divorce. The visitation agreement is negotiated prior to the divorce and is finalized in the child custody plan. Under some conditions, parents may be able to negotiate their own visitation plan, although if the parents cannot agree on a plan the court may develop a plan for them or instruct them to use an alternative dispute resolution strategy such as mediation to develop a visitation plan.
Visitation agreements, which are created by parents, can be as flexible as the parents wish, although there are common provisions which most parents can expect such as alternate weekend visitation with the non-custodial parent, mid-week visitation with the non-custodial parent, sharing of the child during periods of school recess and frequent phone contact with both parents.
It is not unusual for the visitation plan to need periodic modifications. Although parents can make small modification informally, visitation agreements must be formally modified through the court to be binding. Visitation with the noncustodial parent is generally recommended unless it is a harmful relationship for the child. Most experts recommend having both parents involved in the rearing of a child to increase the likelihood the child will reach their highest level of emotional and social development. Visitation rights, however, can be withheld if evidence is provided that proves it is in the best interest of the child not to see one of their parents.