With all the issues that two people face when divorcing, deciding visitation may be used as a bargaining tool. When two parents can't agree on when each sees the child, the child may feel like the center of a tug-of-war. By dealing with the issues concerning the children separately and following a few simple guidelines, visitation after divorce can and will run smoothly.
1. Access to both mom and dad.
Children who are forced to grow up without free access to both parents usually have problems that show up later. Agree that the child will not be used as pawn, but will have quality time with both parents.
2. Keep visitation regular and consistent.
Having a schedule in seeing the non-custodial parent gives the child time he/she can depend on regularly. Many parents choose every weekend or every other weekend with the non-custodial parent. Parents may also share custody and the child may stay four days in one home and three in the other. Work this out at the time of the divorce, and dont withhold visitation when angry over other issues. When a child is not allowed to see both parents, he or she suffers the loss.
3. Be willing to compromise during holiday visitation.
Holiday visitation may be a touchy subject, as families tend to want their children to be a part of their holiday celebrations with grandmothers, grandfathers, and other family. This is an area where compromise is usually necessary. One idea is to agree to shift your holiday celebration to the day before or after, allowing the child to enjoy two celebrations without having to make a choice. Parents can also alternate years for holidays, with one child having the child on Thanksgiving Day for example, while the other parent has Christmas Day.
4. Don't let distance interfere with visitation.
If the non-custodial parent is going to be living some distance away, make definite arrangements as to when and how the child will visit the other parent. In these cases, longer visits may be in order, such as spring break or summer vacation.
5. Make your child your number one priority.
If its your time to visit, dont let other things in your life interfere. There is nothing sadder than the image of a child sitting with a suitcase staring out the window for the parent who doesnt show. Keep your visits, even if it means you have to reschedule other things. Make your child your number one priority.