When you are going through a divorce and you have minor children, you must establish a child visitation agreement. This stipulation between the parents dictates the amount of time that your children will spend with each parent. Even if you are not married to your child’s mother, you should seek to exercise your visitation rights. Without a child custody court order or a visitation agreement in place, the mother tends to take over the parental rights.
Creating a parenting plan
A parenting plan should outline each parent’s rights and obligations. It should cover a variety of issues such as:
- Visitation dates and times, including splitting vacation time and holidays
- Whether custody of the children is joint, sole or shared
- The rights of each parent to attend school and extracurricular activities
- The right of each parent to make medical decisions or have access to the child’s medical records
- The right of each parent to make decisions regarding the child’s schooling and religious education
Once the court approves the parenting plan, it is a binding contract between the parents. In other words, if one of the parents breaches the agreement, the other has legal rights. If changes in either parent’s life circumstances render the parenting plan unfeasible (such as a change in a parent’s work schedule interferes with visitation time with the children), either party may seek to obtain a modification of the parenting plan.
What if my spouse doesn’t allow me to visit my children?
A parent who refuses to allow visitation time with the other parent creates a serious situation. This tactic is often used to get the other parent to pay child support or purely out of spite. Regardless, it is not allowed. Child visitation rights are not dependent upon the payment of child support. Both parents that have been granted visitation rights have that right even if child support payments are past-due. Most family court judges frown on this type of behavior and may hold the other parent in contempt of court or take even more serious actions. Thus, if the mother of your children is starting to withhold parenting time, you should start keeping a record of the dates and times. You should also request make-up time in writing and keep a copy of each request for your records. If your ex- ignores you, it is time to contact us for help.
Contact the knowledgeable attorneys at the Men’s Divorce Law Firm. Our office is located in Orlando, Florida, but we proudly serve husbands and fathers across the State.