During a divorce, temporary visitation will need to be established shortly after the filing of the divorce suit. Family courts usually grant the non-custodial parent regular visitation during a divorce to foster the child's relationship with both parents. As in custody decisions, the best interest of the child is the standard in determining how visitation should be arranged. What is in the best interest of the child may not always be the ideal situation for the parents. However, if the parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule, the judge will determine one for them until a permanent custody arrangement is implemented. Establishing a regular schedule lets the child know what to expect. It also helps the parents avoid conflict during this emotional time.
Establish a specific visitation schedule with your spouse, keeping your child's best interests in mind. While your spouse should have regular visits with the child, such as every other weekend and one evening during the off week, you should try to create a schedule that causes as little disruption as possible to your child's regularly scheduled activities. Plan for holidays, summer vacations, birthdays and any occasions when you or your spouse will want to have the child, such as Father's Day or Mother's Day. Set specific times for the beginning and end of a visitation.
Determine where you will exchange the child for visitation periods and who will pay any transportation costs. Clarify who will be allowed to pick up and drop off the child if you or your spouse cannot be there. Be on time to exchange the child and be courteous with your spouse.
Work with the your spouse to facilitate visitation periods that are healthy for your child. Do not put the child in the center of any conflict you have with your spouse by asking her to convey messages or report what's occurring in your spouse's life. Avoid discussing your divorce and criticizing your spouse in front of the child.
Facilitate a smooth transition for every visitation period. Let your spouse know if the child is feeling sad, is sick or you will be late to the exchange. Make sure the child has enough clothes and any medications she will need. Encourage her to take some personal items along, such as a favorite doll or video game.
Keep the lines of communication open before and during visitation. Make sure your child knows she can contact you during the visitation, but avoid calling to check on her or doing anything that might interfere with the visitation. Encourage regular telephone calls with the non-custodial parent between scheduled visitation periods.
Respect your spouse's relationship with your child and try to foster their parent-child relationship. When special occasions arise, be willing to adjust the visitation schedule to accommodate the event. Do not deny your child any opportunity to bond with your spouse or his family because you are angry with him.