When parents in Virginia get a divorce, they may also need to create a parenting schedule. This is the plan for when the child will be with each parent. Parents can negotiate a schedule, or they can go to court where a judge will create the schedule. The disadvantage of this approach is that parents have less control over the outcome; a parent could end up with even less time than was proposed in the negotiations.
Parents who are negotiating should keep the focus on the child and not on their emotions toward one another. While they may be tempted to use the parenting schedule as a way to punish the other parent or to think of it as a win-lose situation, they should resist this. The purpose behind a parenting schedule is for the child to build a healthy relationship with both parents.
The schedule should be made with an eye to the logistics of the situation, such as where the parents live and where the child’s school is, and awareness of the child’s extracurricular activities. Older children may want to be part of the process. Once the schedule is in place, parents and children can try it out for a few weeks and see if it requires any further tweaks.
Parents should try to work out any small issue with the schedule between themselves. If they tend to argue when they talk to one another, they could make a plan for communicating about the schedule that involves using online tools, email or text. Larger issues, such as the relocation of a parent, might require a modification in the agreement. A custodial parent may not be permitted to move out of the area with the child if it will affect the visitation arrangement and is not in the child’s best interests.