This is the next post in my series discussing the rights of unmarried Virginia Beach parents who have gone their separate ways. It has been the goal of this series to urge couples to establish a proper custody schedule prior to the rising of any contentious issues. My last article explained the process of conducting discovery in a custody case so that one may be properly prepared for trial. In this post I will discuss how both parents should proceed after the completion of trial and the entering of an Order.
Whether two parents have gone through a custody trial, or have mutually agreed to terms of a shared custody agreement, it is important for both parents to stick to the custody schedule. This is particularly true if one parent has been awarded primary custody subject to the other parent’s visitation. It is understandable that one or both sides may be unhappy with the Court’s ruling. The fact of the matter, however, is that you must abide by it. Common issues which arise following a custody trial involve one parent missing visitation, showing up late, dropping children off late, or the custodial parent attempting to withhold visitation. It is important that such situations be avoided or the parents may quickly find themselves back in Court.
In order to keep the peace and avoid having the visitation order modified it is important to keep all scheduled visitations unless an emergency comes up. If a parent is not able to make a scheduled appointment then it is important to give the other parent as much notice as possible. It is also recommended to provide the primary custodial parent with a general idea of what the visitation itinerary looks like and to provide any necessary emergency contacts.
As for parents with primary custody it is important to ensure that the child is always available during the secondary parent’s scheduled visitation. Do not schedule medical appointments or other social outings for the child during such time. If the child has a conflicting engagement, discuss it with the co-parent, and determine if that time can be made up. Failing to follow these steps will often give rise to a claim that one is attempting to frustrate the non-custodial parent’s visitation time.
Sticking to the agreed upon time-share agreement is important, as either parent may take the other one back to Court if they feel an agreement is not respected. Should a parent with visitation not utilize their time then the custodial parent may file a Motion to have the schedule modified. On the other hand, if a custodial parent purposefully blocks the secondary parent from visitation, that parent may file a Motion stating that their relationship with the child is being purposefully frustrated, which could lead to an outright custody change.
Whether or not a custody schedule was made voluntarily, or by Order of the Court, learning how to co-parent is important to the health and happiness of one’s children.
Contact my office today to speak with a Virginia Beach child custody attorney. We also service Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, as well as the surrounding counties of Northampton, Isle of Wight, York, and James City.