Parents usually attend a parenting class, which instructs them on different options for visitation. Visitation and physical custody are two different terms that mean essentially the same thing. With 50/50 custody, you could share custody different ways. Maybe you do one week one then one week off. Maybe you do two nights with one parent and two nights with the other parent and then alternate those remaining weekend nights with the other parent each week. Maybe you do four days on and four days off, which works better when the child is younger. Children need a set routine for school, and those kinds of exchanges would make that difficult. That’s shared physical custody, and those schedules accommodate that.
When you’re talking about visitation, one parent has primary custody and the other parent has visitation, or what’s called access. Access schedules might include two to three overnights every other weekend (Friday to Monday, Friday to Sunday, or Saturday to Sunday). Some parents have visitation from Friday to Sunday every week.
In addition to the visitation schedule, you have other access schedules that might include things like dinner visits on off weeks. For example, if one party has every other weekend, they might have Tuesday and Thursday dinner visits on the off week. Those all are options that the court considers in making a schedule for visitation.
Several factors go into the court making these decisions, including geographic location, accommodations, whether there is suitable housing for the child at the non-custodial parent’s home, what kind of activities the child is involved in, whether the parents can communicate property, or any fitness issues with the non-custodial parent. These depend on the child’s age, as well. If the child is, say, 15, they have more of a say in where they want to spend most of their time. The child’s gender and any number of things all go into determining the proper access schedule for visitation. In some cases, it just doesn’t make sense to have a 50/50 schedule when there are different activities that the child does at home and there’s no reason to break those up. The law dictates looking at what’s best for the child in those determinations through evaluation.
It’s not always easy to get into a shared physical custody schedule compared to an access schedule, or you might only have visitation for a day during the off weekend, maybe a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It depends on the allegations that are being floated and what accommodations are available. Sometimes, the access is supervised by social workers in a courthouse or another location that allows for supervised visits. They might allow a grandparent or the other parent to supervise that parent’s access. Those are the more restricted methods of access and visitation, which are not all that rare. The courts are definitely more restrictive when there’s been domestic violence, for example.
It’s important to note that some of this might be dictated by the wealth of the parents. If one parent can provide a certain type of access, they have much more flexibility to work with the court and everyone involved to have substantial time. On the other hand, it’s not as easy for parents without a lot of resources for accommodating the child or for making sure that they’re acting in the child’s best interest in terms of housing, feeding, and caring for them. Wealth does play a role in that.
For more information on Child Custody & Support Law in Maryland, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (240) 331-0083 today.