During a Divorce, What are Normal Child Visitation Rights?
Time spent with children is precious, so when parents with shared children divorce, it’s only natural to feel anxious about the amount of time you’ll have with children in the aftermath. You need to understand that even if you don’t have custody, you still have legal rights. Here are a few things you should know about normal visitation rights.
Custody vs. Parenting Time
The first thing you need to understand is that custody and parenting time, or visitation, are two separate things, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Custody refers to parental rights where children are concerned, and there are two types: physical and legal.
Physical custody establishes living arrangements for the child, while legal custody refers to the power to make important decisions about the child’s life. In both cases, custody can be sole or joint, meaning one or both parents could have physical and/or legal custody.
Parenting time, on the other hand, has to do with the actual amount of time parents spend with children, per a custody arrangement. When custody is decided, one household may be designated as the established custodial environment (ECE), and one parent may be given custody of the children, but this doesn’t mean the other parent can’t see children, as long as the court rules that it’s in their best interests. In this case, the noncustodial parent will be granted visitation time.
Typical Visitation Guidelines
The state of Michigan provides guidelines for visitation (although they are not observed in every county, so it’s important to check the guidelines for your county). Generally, visitation is scheduled on alternating weekends (6:00pm Friday to 6:00pm Sunday) and one evening during the week, from 6:00pm to 8:30pm, usually on a Wednesday, unless parents agree on another night.
Holidays are split on a complex schedule. For example, on an even numbered year, a father may have visitation with children on the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and spring break. In even numbered years, a mother will have kids on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. This schedule swaps for odd numbered years, and each year, fathers get visitation on Father’s Day weekend and mothers get visitation on Mother’s Day Weekend.
Winter and summer breaks will be divided, with a father receiving visitation from 6:00pm the last day of school before winter break to 9:00pm December 24th on odd numbered years, and mothers taking them until they return to school at the end of break, with this schedule to flip on even numbered years. For summer break, the noncustodial parent will receive visitation starting the first Friday after July 4th at 6:00pm and extending four weeks to the fourth Friday at 6:00pm, with the custodial parent having visitation the second Friday at 6:00pm until Sunday at 6:00pm.
Parents may have some latitude to set a schedule that works better for their particular needs, as long as they both agree. For example, not all families celebrate Christmas, and may prefer a schedule that works around Hanukkah or other winter holidays.
If you’re concerned about getting custody or visitation, you need a legal expert by your side. Contact the qualified attorneys at The Gucciardo Law Firm today at 248-723-5190 or online to schedule a free consultation.
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