"Time-share" is a term you might see when going through a divorce or separation involving children. Also called visitation, it refers to the amount of time you and your child's other parent spend with your child/children.
To ensure that both parents understand their roles and responsibilities concerning time-share, an arrangement can be drafted detailing a visitation schedule. You and your child's other parent can establish a time-share agreement together based on what is best for your kids and the family circumstances. However, if you cannot work things out on your own, the court may decide on the parenting time plan. Whether your time-share schedule is determined by you and your child's other parent or the court, it must serve your child's best interests.
Once the court signs the visitation agreement, it becomes legally enforceable. In other words, if you or your child's other parent fail to abide by the terms, the court can order compliance.
Developing a Time-Share Arrangement in California
The time-share arrangement establishes when your child will be with you or their other parent. It should be detailed enough that you are clear on the dates and times you will have access to your child. Clarity in the agreement can help prevent confusion in the future or allow the court to better determine whether either parent has violated the arrangement.
That said, the way visitation is decided can be based on a schedule or what you and your child's other parent determine is reasonable.
- An arrangement based on a schedule will specify time-share days and times. It may also contain provisions for special occasions (e.g., birthdays or holidays) and school breaks/vacations. This type of arrangement is ideal in most cases, as it allows parents to avoid conflicts.
- A “reasonable visitation” schedule is more flexible. The parents aren't restricted to a set schedule and can decide visitation on an ongoing basis. A “reasonable visitation” schedule is for parents who can openly communicate and agree on time-share and don't foresee issues. I don’t recommend this for most people. Chances are you won’t be able to communicate long term and agree on what is “reasonable”.
You and your child's other parent can agree on a visitation schedule together. Once you decide how time with your child will be split between the two of you, you can create a written arrangement to ensure both parties know the schedule. Attorney Andrea Schneider loves to help families come up with very specific plans that are right for their particular needs, activities and schedules.
When developing the plan, you must keep your child's best interests in mind and consider factors such as:
- Your child's age
- Your child's personality
- Your child's health
- Your child's extracurricular activities
- Your child's relationships with you and their other parent
- Each parent's situations and commitments
For your time-share arrangement to be legally enforceable, you must submit it to the court in a proper format. A judge will review the plan and will likely approve it, provided that it meets your child's needs.
If you and your child's other parent cannot agree on a visitation schedule, the court may do so for you. The court will develop a plan that it determines is in your child's best interests, which means it may not meet the unique needs of your family.
Violating the Terms of the Time-Share Arrangement
When you have a court-approved visitation plan, you and your child's other parent must stick to the schedule. Neither of you can deny the other visitation when it is their turn to spend time with your child.
Any alleged violations may be presented to the court. The judge will determine if either parent disobeyed the order and may direct the non-complying party to adhere to the terms or impose sanctions for non-compliance.
Discuss Your Case with a Family Law Attorney
If you need assistance with a visitation issue in La Mesa, I am here to help. I recognize the emotional and sensitive nature of these matters and can work to protect the best interests of your family.
Please call (619) 304-8499 or submit an online contact form to schedule a consultation.