It's fortunate when spouses remain friendly and live close to each other after the divorce, thereby allowing their children frequent and consistent contact with both parents. While many parents don't set limits on when their children see the other parent, specific terms are outlined in the divorce agreement in order to protect each party's parental rights. Formal schedules are especially important for shared or joint custody arrangements, in which the non-custodial parent gets up to two overnight visits with their children per week. The dilemma for most parents is deciding whether these nights should be during the week, or the weekends.
On the surface, overnight visits on Wednesday and Thursday, as opposed to Saturday and Sunday doesn't seem like much of a difference. However, anyone with kids knows that a typical school week is run on a very tight schedule, especially for older kids who have a lot of homework on top of sports and extra-curricular activities. If you have a firm, disciplined co-parent, mid-week visits can be a welcome chance for you to unwind and catch up on erands while the kids keep up with their daily obligations. It can also help you and your ex become better co-parents, since you will be working together to make day-to-day decisions concerning your children.
These advantages, however, are only applicable if you and the other parent are on the same page. If, for example, your ex is not particularly disciplined about things like homework and schedules, mid-week visits can quickly turn into a frustrating, chaotic nightmare. Even if discipline isn't an issue, there may be a tendency for non-custodial parents to be the “fun” parents, considering that they only get one or two nights a week with the kids. Such parents may focus on quality time via outings and indulgences, rather than day-to-day responsibilities like studying and making sure they're clothes and backpacks are ready for the following day.
Differing parenting styles can result in custody disputes, but it's difficult to modify existing custody terms without strong and compelling evidence. For the courts, what matters is whether or not the current arrangement goes against the child's best interests. Although it's frustrating that homework sometimes gets missed, and the following morning's routine is hectic, the resulting circumstances may not be severe enough to warrant a change to the existing agreement. In short, it's best to avoid court intervention unless your child is experiencing serious problems that can be directly linked to the visitation schedule. Furthermore, it's best to honestly evaluate the pros and cons of a custody arrangement, based on your own personal circumstances. Doing that during the divorce proceedings with help from your attorneys is the best way to ensure civil and cooperative co-parenting. However, it's equally important to communicate when things aren't going as you planned, and suggesting alternatives such as changing to weekend overnight visits. For more information on your custody rights and legal options, please speak with the attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.