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What are the Different Types of Arrangements for Child Visitation?

By Tess C. Taylor
Updated May 17, 2024
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When parents live separately because they are unmarried, separated, or divorced, it is in the best interest of the children to create reasonable arrangements for child visitation for the non-custodial parent. While no two child visitation agreements are exactly alike, there are some general types of arrangements that work for a majority of parents. These arrangements include weekend visitation, alternate week visitation, vacation and holiday visitations, open telephone visitations, third-party visitations, and live-in parent rotation schedules.

In many child visitation arrangements, the custodial parent keeps the children throughout the week and attends to their needs, which include school, homework, family, and social activities. Then on weekends, the non-custodial parent picks up the children and takes them to another home or location to have visit time. This lasts until Sunday evening, when children are returned to the family home to resume their weekly routine.

The alternate weekly visit arrangement works best for parents who live in the same general neighborhood. Children live with one parent for one week, and then live with the other parent the next week. This works best in cases where parents have joint custody and have somewhat older children who are well adjusted to a routine that might be disruptive to younger children.

Sometimes, one parent lives a long distance from the custodial home. When this is the case, a reasonable child visitation agreement might be the open telephone and vacation visitation schedule. This allows children to speak on the phone anytime they wish with the non-custodial parent. Then during holiday or summer vacations from school, children can travel to the non-custodial parent’s home or a grandparent’s home for an extended visit time that can last days or weeks. Children return to the custodial home once this vacation ends to resume a normal schedule.

In cases where there is a great deal of animosity between parents or if a parent could potentially harm a child, a child visitation arrangement that includes a neutral third party is used. Children can be brought to a counselor’s office or to the home of a friend or family member and the non-custodial parent can visit them for a brief period of time, supervised, if needed. The child is then retrieved at the appropriate time by the custodial parent.

Another more creative child visitation arrangement that is used with success by some parents is the alternate live-in visitation schedule. Children remain in the family home while the parents or grandparents alternate weeks living in the house with the child. This arrangement often works well for very small children with parents who communicate in a healthy way and don’t mind living in two locations for extended periods of time for the benefit of the child.

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