A father’s rights for overnight visits involve several factors. As such, a night-time parenting time schedule needs to take these into account, and is determined by the various factors such as the child’s age and the child’s schedule. Of course the best interest of the kids is also very important, so it’s important to position overnight parenting time accordingly. Here are the three main factors that go into determining an overnight parenting time schedule for dad.
By the way, as we always say, this sort of parenting time should not be called “visits” or “visitation”, because a father isn’t a visitor in his children’s lives, he’s their parent. However because many courts still call it ‘visitation’, and so that’s the information and help for which people are searching, we must sometimes use the common terms, as distasteful and wrong as we may find them.
Regardless of what you call it, children need overnight parenting time with their dad. In fact studies show that even bedtime stories with dad are important to a child’s development.
How a Child’s Age Influences Fathers Rights for Overnight Visits
Some overnight arrangements are not workable as they may cause stress to the kids. For example, overnight visits may not be appropriate for very young infants, especially if they are still breastfeeding. As the loving father that you are, you need to show that you understand if a judge decides to limit overnight time due to what are reasonable factors (even though you will of course be disappointed), and instead seek alternate arrangements for the time being. The judge will appreciate your willingness to understand and seek alternate ways of having more parenting time, and so be more likely to work with you, and also more likely to give you greater overnight parenting time in the future.
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Also, as a responsible and understanding father, you need to be able to demonstrate that you understand how to handle the kids’ changes in preferences as they grow older. For example, teenage children may want to draw parenting time boundaries as they learn to make their own decisions. And in such a situation it would be best if your reaction didn’t put the kids in a position in which they felt forced to participate in a particular overnight schedule.
The bottom line is that in some situations, simply discussing with the kids’ mom about the number of nights your kids come over may not be the right approach to protecting your rights for overnight visits. There’s more to making these visits work than just a plan.
How a Child’s Schedule in School or Preschool Influences Night Visits
Overnight visits are best done when they do not disrupt a child’s daytime schedule, more so if the child is in school or preschool. As much as the judge may want to protect your rights for overnight parenting time, their main obligation is protecting the health and well-being of the kids. A judge knows that exposing a school-aged child to different environments in between school days may disrupt their learning process, for example. As such, the judge may recommend that the best time to arrange for overnight time when school-going kids are involved is during the weekends, and also holidays. Sometimes you may have to compromise your rights, even if the co-parenting arrangement is equal shared custody.
Cooperativeness of the Co-parenting Arrangements Matters Too
The co-parenting arrangement you have with your ex may influence your pursuit of overnight parenting time. Remember that it is in your best interest not to go against the arrangement you have in place with your co-parent. Your decisions regarding overnight time should fall in line with other aspects of the co-parenting plan. This way you won’t run the risk of violating the parenting plan, or precipitating unnecessary disagreements with mom. One of the best ways of facilitating a great overnight parenting plan is nurturing a healthy co-parenting relationship with mom, through which you can regularly discuss, evaluate, and find solutions to developments as they arise. (That said, if you need help renegotiating your parenting plan, here’s how to find a good lawyer for fathers to help you do that.)
Determining overnight parenting time can be a complicated, and often changing, element of co-parenting because it involves balancing many different factors, needs, and situations. A judge may consider many different factors when determining how to best set up overnight parenting time while still prioritizing the needs of the kids. While the judge sets the ground rules, the biggest responsibility to make these overnights work without causing stress to the kids lies with the co-parents. Of course, if you can agree to an arrangement with your co-parent (and the kids, if appropriate) rather than having to go to court that’s always the best option!
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