Child custody: What is reasonable visitation?

| Feb 12, 2018 | blog

Imagine you’re the noncustodial parent of a child, meaning that your child lives with the other parent full time and you want to receive visitation rights. After going through all the court procedures necessary to seek visitation rights, the judge awards you “reasonable visitation.”

What does reasonable visitation mean, and how much time will you get to spend with your child?

Reasonable visitation defined

Essentially, when a judge awards you reasonable visitation rights it is exactly as it sounds. You, as the noncustodial parent, will have the right to spend a reasonable amount of time with your child.

With an award of reasonable visitation, the judge leaves it up to the parents to decide between themselves what a reasonable amount of visitation entails. If you received such an award, it means that the judge perceived you and your ex to be able to cooperate and come to an independent agreement on this issue. In fact, most parents prefer an award of reasonable visitation because it allows them to agree upon a visitation schedule that fits their respective schedules.

The custodial parent will have more power to decide

One important issue to make note of for the noncustodial parent is that — with an award of reasonable visitation — the custodial parent, with whom the child lives, has more decision-making authority. This parent will usually have the final say regarding duration and times that are deemed to be reasonable.

However, if the custodial parent is inflexible and “unreasonable” with regard to the visitation schedule, the noncustodial parent can go back to the court to protect his or her visitation rights. Fortunately, these situations are not entirely common, as judges try not to award reasonable visitation when it’s clear there exists the danger of the custodial parent being difficult.

Take care when navigating your child visitation dispute

Noncustodial parents who fear that their exes will be difficult or inflexible should take care to bring their concerns to the attention of the family law judge presiding over their cases. In such cases, a judge may award a fixed visitation schedule to ensure that the noncustodial parent and children get to spend quality time with one another on a regular basis.