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The term "reasonable" is indeed a somewhat vague term that can be construed to mean different things by different people — in this case, by ex-spouses who have children together. In the best-case scenario, the divorced parents of children simply work out a visitation schedule that is agreeable to both parents and their children. No court involvement is necessary.
A parent who has been granted main custody of the children by a family law judge is called the "custodial" parent, and the other parent is called the "noncustodial" parent. (In other cases, the parents share equal custody.) A custodial parent is allowed to decide whether the ex-spouse's requests regarding visitation are reasonable.
No Drugs or Dangerous Activity
For example, visits by an ex-spouse when he or she is drunk or on drugs would never be considered "reasonable" visitation; nor would visits at odd hours of the night, or visits that involve activities that would be harmful or dangerous to the children.
Can't Use Visitation as a Weapon
On the other hand, a custodial parent will not be allowed to use the visitation as a weapon against the other parent. Denying visitation because of hard feelings toward the other parent, or because the other parent is not current on child support payments, will not be allowed by a family law judge. Interfering with the other parent's visitation by planning activities with the children that conflict with the other parent's visitation time will also not be allowed.
Court Involvement When Necessary
In cases where parents cannot agree on visitation, or if one parent uses visitation as a weapon against the other parent, the court may step in and impose a reasonable visitation schedule. A common schedule is visitation/custody of the children every other weekend from 6:00 p.m. on Friday until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, plus holiday and vacation times.
Maintaining the Parent-Child Bond
The point of visitation is to provide children with time with both of their parents. Although the marital bond is broken by divorce, the bond between children and each of their parents is still there, and this bond is definitely worth the effort to preserve it by having reasonable visitation, despite the inconvenience or hard feelings between parents. In addition, each parent is entitled to love and be with his or her children and be loved by them in return.
Do you need help with visitation issues? Contact an experienced family law attorney today for the answers you need.