Family Law Articles - Florida Law
Visitation Do’s and Don’ts
Posted on June 15, 2018
Visitation, also known as “time-sharing” in Florida, plays a vital role in a child’s ability to maintain a relationship with both parents during and after a divorce. For visitations to work successfully, both parents need to make sure the child is comfortable in their separate homes, regardless of how much time is spent there. However, when former spouses want to hurt the other, they sometimes use visitation with the children as a form of revenge. Parents should never try to put their child in the middle of their problems. Instead, they should always assist one another in making the transition from one home to the next as smooth as possible.
The following do’s and don’ts may help former spouses achieve parenting goals during their time-sharing.
- Make visitation feel as natural as possible – When you have your children during your time, find activities or things to do together that let you continue to build your relationship. When you don’t have any activities planned, it’s okay to just hang out and catch up.
- Be flexible with visitation schedules – Things come up all the time, so you may need to adjust your visitation schedule. If you do, give the other parent enough notice, especially when going away for a long weekend or on vacation. It is possible that your child may already have plans, so if that happens, don't get too upset. Instead, try your best to work out a temporary arrangement that works for all of you.
- Show respect to your former spouse – Conflicts between parents only create more tension at the expense of the child, especially when the child is put in the middle of an argument. Setting aside your differences will make the process a lot less stressful.
Former spouses should encourage visitation to let their children know it is okay to love both parents. Although they are now raising their children separately, parents should be consistent with rules, expectations, and discipline, whenever possible. Both parents should treat each other with respect for the benefit of the child.
- Don’t use your children to communicate for you – Never have your children relay messages to your ex regarding things like divorce, child support, or modifying visitation plans. The parents should discuss those topics with each other. Parenting responsibilities are the responsibility of the parents, and should not be carried out by the child just because you refuse to communicate with your former spouse.
- Don’t make your child choose sides – Even if you can’t stand your ex, you should never make your child feel guilty for wanting to spend time with them. Don’t tell the child that you’ll be sad and lonely if they leave; instead, encourage them to have fun while they are away.
- Don’t try to buy your child’s affection – Don't bribe your child or let the child threaten to refuse visitation with the other parent unless you buy them something. You should still discipline your child when the child is with you and don't let your child make you feel bad for doing so because children still need this structure. Although you don't have them with you as much, you don't have to make up for lost time by filling every minute of your visits with some form of entertainment. It’s okay to have downtime to take care of routine activities like cooking, laundry, helping with homework, or just having quiet time together.
Some parents try withholding visitation from the other as a form of punishment for making them mad, or for doing something they don't like, such as failing to make a child support payment. This, as well as other retaliatory behavior, can be incredibly hurtful to your child and your divorce case and should be avoided.
Child custody and visitation are some of the most complex areas of family law. At The Roberts Family Law Firm, P.A., we have represented numerous clients in child custody and visitation cases with much success. If you need assistance with establishing, modifying, or enforcing appropriate child custody and visitation arrangements, contact our Orlando family law attorneys by calling (407) 426-6999 or by filling out the contact form provided on this page.
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- What are my rights if my spouse plans to go to work and leave the children with a sitter, but I am available to be with them?