After a divorce, the children generally live with one parent or the other. The parent that the children live with is called the "custodial" parent, and the other is called the "non-custodial" parent. In the interests of the children, the non-custodial parent is usually then granted the right to reasonable visitation with the children.

Who Decides What Is "Reasonable"?

In most cases, the two ex-spouses will be able to work out a schedule together that they are both satisfied with. But in the end, the custodial parent has the power to decide what is or is not reasonable visitation. However, the custodial parent's decision making power is not absolute.

For example, the custodial parent can refuse visitation in the middle of the night or while the other parent is intoxicated. However, the custodial parent cannot deny visitation just because he or she is upset with the non-custodial parent, or because the children do not want to visit with the other parent.

What If My Ex-Spouse Has Custody and Refuses to Be "Reasonable"?

If the two parents cannot come to an agreement on their own, the court will decide on a schedule. A common schedule may look something like this:

  • Visitation with the non-custodial parent every other weekend
  • Visitation on either Easter and New Years, or alternatively, Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • Five continuous weeks with the non-custodial parent during the summer
  • Unlimited written and electronic communication with the non-custodial parent

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are seeking to establish or modify reasonable visitation rights, it may be wise to consult with a family lawyer to discuss your options. Working with an attorney can help you understand your rights and help you navigate the complicated doctrines of law at work.