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How reasonable visitation schedules work

Pennsylvania family courts often prefer to encourage parents to work together in developing parenting plans during divorce proceedings. Judges may order that non-custodial parents receive reasonable visitation with their children, and parents often have questions about what that term means and how it is determined.

When judges decide that a parent is entitled to reasonable visitation, the court wants both parents to work together to determine their own visitation schedule. This has a few benefits over court intervention in determining visitation such as parents' ability to develop a visitation routine that fits with their and their children's work and school schedules.

The definition of what constitutes reasonable visitation is left to the parents to decide. These arrangements generally favor the custodial parent's input over that of the non-custodial parent. This often puts non-custodial parents at a disadvantage since custodial parents are not required to accommodate their ex-spouses' requests. A custodial parent may be malicious in determining when visits can occur rather than putting forth a good faith effort to ensure that children have quality visits with their other parent. Parents who are unwilling to work together in determining what is reasonable visitation may need further intervention from courts, especially if a custodial parent is purposefully withholding access to children. A judge may order a fixed visitation schedule to ensure that regular contact with their children is maintained if the parents cannot agree on a favorable schedule.

Child custody and visitation are often among the most contentious issues divorcing couples face. Though many parents are willing to negotiate for equitable solutions in regards to these matters, in many cases they must assert their parental rights. Some parents seek the advice of a family law attorney regarding their options for seeking custody or for maximizing their visitation time.

Source: FindLaw, "Parental Visitation Rights FAQ", accessed on Jan. 13, 2015

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