Visitation Tips

Read these 23 Visitation Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Single Parent tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What if I cannot keep my scheduled visit?

Stick to the Visitation Schedule

Set up a visitation schedule and keep it. Your children say they understand when "something comes up" but it still feels like rejection regardless of how good of a reason you have.

   
How can I be a real dad on short visits?

Quality, not Quantity is the Key

Fathers need to spend quality time with their children, even if it is on a limited basis. Fathers are more than a monthly support check or weekend babysitter, they are special. Be a real father to your children. There is no higher calling that a man can strive for than to have his children be proud to call a man his DAD. Make the time you have together with your children special. Take time to plan special activities for them such as a trip to the zoo, baseball game, or park. And do not forget about taking your child along on hunting or fishing trips or just camping. These are activities they may never experience otherwise. Make the most of every moment, and make sure your time together is quality time. Remember it is quality rather than quantity that matters.

   
How can I spend quality time with all my children during visits?

Schedule One-on-One Time

If you have more than one child, schedule some one-on-one time with each child during visitation periods. This can be difficult to do with time constraints and it also depends upon the ages of your children. But 30 minutes with your child one-on-one can mean a lot especially when your time with your children is limited.

   
How can I keep visitations more peaceful?

Say Thanks

Say thanks to your ex when your children are returned from a visit. Even if the kids are a little late getting home, or did not take a full nap, etc., say thank you. This shows your children good manners and helps diffuse the after visit anxiety. A little kindness goes a long way.

   
How can I make my child feel this is their home too?

Make Your House A Home

Make your house feels like a home for your children. A house is a place, a home is where you live and should make others feel comfortable and welcoming. Make sure you have a toothbrush, favorite stuffed animal, socks, extra clothing, etc. for your children. This will make your house feel more like "home" versus going away for a weekend.

   
What are some of the problems associated with joint custody?

Joint Custody Issues

It is quite common these days for divorcing parents to receive joint physical custody. While joint custody can be good for maintaining contact with your child, it can create a whole new set of problems than if only one parent had custody with the other parent awarded visitation rights. Shuttling children between two households continually can create anxiety and insecurity in children. Make sure you make the needs of your child your priority, not your own desires, or your need to get back at the other parent. What is best for your child?

   
What if my child does not want to visit?

Children Not Wanting to Visit

If the children tell you that they do not want to visit or do not want to return to their custodial parent, do not jump to any conclusions. Ask the children why, do not attempt to guess. Avoid giving the children a reason, such as is it because you are ignored. Sometimes it is just that they are tired of moving between parents, or they are being punished by the other parent for something they did. Jumping to conclusions will teach your children to be manipulative.

   
Is is okay to express disapproval of visitation rights?

Bite Your Tongue

Do not put down what your ex-spouse does or does not do during visits. Children will often keep different hours or eat different things when away for a weekend. Do not make a big deal about the parenting style of your ex because it differs from yours. Bite your tongue and be honest with yourself...will staying up a couple of hours later on a weekend night do any permanent damage? Of course not.

   
How important is having a routine for visits?

Create a Pickup and Dropoff Ritual

Set and maintain a pick up/drop off ritual and be on time! Let each other know what time you can expect the other to be there. It is a good idea to give the kids a little warning of an upcoming visit so they can get ready. If a child seems distant towards the end of a visit, he or she is probably preparing for the transition to go back to their other home. Always reassure your children of your love and commitment to them!

   
What do I do if I feel custodial visits are a threat to my child?

Supervised Visitation

Children have a right to visit their non-custodial parent. They also have a right to be kept safe. If you feel that your child is in danger if left alone with their non-custodial parent, petition the court for supervised visitation. Ask that the visits be supervised by a professional so that the visits can be evaluated.

   
How can I ensure my child will love me if I do not have custody?

Love Cannot Be Bought

Be a parent, not Santa. It is so easy for a parent to try to “win” a child's love by buying presents every time the child comes to visit so they will want to come back. That's not being fair to anybody, especially the children. Don't try to buy a child's love with gifts. Let the child LOVE you for who you ARE, not for what you can BUY them. There's nothing wrong with an occasional special gift, but to make a habit of it every time the child is in your home is teaching a wrong concept. What your children should remember about you is the GREAT TIME you spent together, not what you BOUGHT them

   
Should a child have the same rules at both homes?

Keep Rules Consistent

It is important for you and your ex to decide on house rules and keep house rules as consistent as possible between homes. Children of all ages need consistency and structure, especially when frequently going back and forth between two homes.

   
How can I encourage regular visits when they are rare?

Be Flexible

If visits are rare, try to be a little more flexible in your visitation schedule to encourage increased visiting. It does not do anyone any good (especially your child) when you do not attempt to meet your ex half way. The added benefit is that your child sees you making this effort and WILL remember it.

   
How does joint physical custody work for school-age children?

School and Joint Physical Custody

School-age children present a whole new side of the joint physical custody issue. The only way this can work effectively for a child who spends 50/50 time in each household is for the parents to live within a short distance of each other so the child can attend the same school with the same friends. Otherwise, there are problems in getting the child to school on schedule, or problems with living in a neighborhood with kids that attend another school, which tends to make a child feel like an outsider. The less disruption to a child's life, the better off the child will be. When a child reaches school age, it might be best for one parent to have custody during the week, and the other on weekends, especially if there is considerable distance between the two households. The extra time missed by the weekend parent can be made up during the summer or school breaks. The important thing is to sit down, talk about it, and try to work out a schedule that will be in the best interest of the child.

   
How can I develop a good relationship with my child?

Take Time to Enjoy Visits

When spending valuable vacation or visitation time with your child, it is important that you provide some breathing room for the two of you. Many times non-custodial parents want to cram as much living as they can into a short span of time to make up for all the times missed. Plan some unstructured time during your vacation or home visits to just hang out and get to know one another. Spend the time taking a morning or evening walk, frolicking in the pool, enjoying an impromptu picnic, or a relaxing evening enjoying an ice cream cone on the porch swing. In short, be a parent, not Santa Claus dropping off presents and then disappearing. Spend time bonding with your child, something Santa does not have time to do.

   
How can my child keep up with scheduled visits?

Give Your Child a Visit Calendar

Purchase a pocket calendar or create a calendar page and highlight the days your children will spend with you. This way your children will know when they will see you next.

   
What if my ex is rude in picking up the children?

Keep a Positive Attitude

Picking up and delivering your children may be a difficult task. Your ex may always seem to have a few words of wisdom for you. Always be polite and listen but do not let anyone take away from the relationship that you are maintaining with your children. The added benefit is that if your children see you being polite, they will remember it.

   
How can I make sure homework gets done during visits?

Homework and School Projects

Encourage your children to bring homework or school projects with them on visits. This will avoid the easy excuse of "I did not get my homework done because I was visiting my Mom/Dad". This will also keep you up to date on what your child is learning and it will allow you to help them study or do research. It will also help to ease the load of the custodial parent with the Sunday-night-after-the-visit chaos that usually involves hyped up children and getting ready for the school week.

   
How can I let my child know that I still love them?

Take Time to Enjoy Visits

When spending valuable vacation or visitation time with your child, it is important that you provide some breathing room for the two of you. Many times non-custodial parents want to cram as much living as they can into a short span of time to make up for all the times missed. Plan some unstructured time during your vacation or home visits to just hang out and get to know one another. Spend the time taking a morning or evening walk, frolicking in the pool, enjoying an impromptu picnic, or a relaxing evening enjoying an ice cream cone on the porch swing. In short, be a parent, not Santa Claus dropping off presents and then disappearing. Spend time bonding with your child, something Santa does not have time to do.

   
Can I prevent my ex from visits when he doesn¡¦t pay child support?

Child Support Does Not Affect Visitation Rights

If your children are not receiving financial support from their noncustodial parent, you have the right to utilize any legal means necessary to get that parent to pay up. What you cannot and should not do is to deny your children the opportunity to have a relationship with the other parent.

   
Can I stop visits when I don´t receive child support?

Visitation versus Child Support

If your children are not receiving financial support from their non-custodial parent, then you, as their primary care giver, have the right to utilize any legal means necessary to get that parent to pay up. When a non-custodial parent refuses or has an inability to support their children, the parent who bares the responsibility solely may become frustrated, angry, and sometimes punitive towards the other responsible party. Use that anger to enforce your child support order, not to keep your children away from their parent.

   
How can I reassure a young child during visits away from me?

Pack a Special Bag for Visits

The noncustodial parent usually has a room, toys, clothing, etc. set up for the visiting child. However, it helps to pack a "special bag" especially when a child is very young. Until I began packing this type of bag for my son, he came home angry and grouchy and generally impossible to live with. I have found that by packing his bed blanket, favorite stuffed animal, and photos of his sisters and myself along with a recording of my voice, he came home in a much better mood and was more relaxed.

   
How can I minimize anxiety on my child with joint physical custody?

Making Joint Physical Custody Work

First and foremost, there must be open and effective communication. The parents must come to an agreement on rules and guidelines the child is to follow in both homes. If one parent imposes a punishment on a child for a violation of the rules (such as no TV for a week), the other parent needs to back up that punishment if the child is in their home part of that week. There should be similar expectations and limits in both households. Otherwise, the child will end up playing one parent against the other, creating even more tension rather than harmony. You want your child to have a stable life, not one of turmoil and strife between the two parents.

   
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