When a couple divorces, there are different possible custody arrangements when a child is involved. The parents could share joint custody—where the child splits their time equally between both parents. If this arrangement is not deemed to be in the best interest of the child, then one parent may have sole physical custody and the other may have visitation rights—the right to periodic visits with the child.
There are three main types of visitation arrangements. The court will look at the specifics of each case to determine which arrangement is appropriate:
- Reasonable access: This is the most flexible type of custody arrangement and is most often used in situations where the ex-spouses are on reasonable terms and are willing to cooperate with each other. With reasonable access, the noncustodial parent has the right to visit their child on whatever the parents jointly determine to be a “reasonable basis.” Visitations do not need to take place at a set time on a specific date, which allows both parents to adjust visitation around unforeseen schedule changes.
- Fixed access: Fixed access arrangements are usually used when the court believes a couple cannot work out a cooperative visitation arrangement together. With fixed access, the frequency, terms and duration of the visitation are set. There is little room for flexibility, and both parents must abide by the guidelines of the court’s arrangement.
- Supervised access: A court will typically only order supervised access if there is a question about whether one parent’s conduct or influence may be appropriate for a child. If a parent has a history of drug abuse or collecting child pornography, for example, then this parent would likely only be granted visitation with their child in an adult-supervised environment.
It is worth noting that whatever visitation arrangement you receive may not last forever. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to request a modification of your custody of visitation order. An experienced family law attorney can help walk you through this process.