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Specifics Count in Visitation Agreement
Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins

Just how detailed you get in your visitation agreement – or the judge gets in the court order – will depend, to a large extent, on the parent’s desires and whether the parent’s relationship is difficult.

Terminology: Options include "custody and visitation," "joint custody," "shared custody," "parenting time," or the omission of labels altogether; instead, just specify the times the child is to be with each parent

Weekends (possibly including specific times and definitions of ``first'' weekend, ``third'' weekend, ``fifth'' weekend, etc.) and Telephone visitation (including times and dates)

Weeknights (or other portions of school week)

Summer holidays and school vacations

Religious and secular holidays, such as:
• New Year's Eve and New Year's Day

• Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday

• President's Day

• Spring break

• Easter

• Passover

• Mother's/Father's Day

• Memorial Day

• Independence Day

• Labor Day

• Rosh Hashanah

• Yom Kippur

• Columbus Day

• Halloween

• Veteran's Day

• Thanksgiving

• Hanukkah

• Christmas (including Christmas break)

• Other school holidays (including teacher inservice days)

• Child's birthday (may specify which years each parent may host a birthday party for the child and his or her friends)

• Special family events (reunions, weddings, anniversary parties, funerals, etc.)

Makeup visitation

Supervised visitation

Adjustments to visitation based on the child’s changing age or activities

Terms of ``reverse'' visitation--the custodial parent's contact with the child when he or she is with the noncustodial parent for an extended period, such as summer vacation

Right to travel with the child

Religious training of the child (although both parents generally have a right to expose the child to their respective religious beliefs)

Notice provisions for dates of summer visitation, travel by either parent with child, special family events, plans of either parent to move out of state, etc.

Telephone contact with child

Notification (to noncustodial parent) of teacher conferences

Provision requiring copies of report cards and health records be provided to noncustodial parent

Notification (to noncustodial parent) of the child’s change of address or telephone number. In addition, there should be provisions about relocation.

Provision requiring consultation or agreement regarding matters affecting the child, e.g., relocation, schooling, medical care, dental care, extracurricular activities.

If there are to be notice provisions – such as changes of dates, choices of summer visitation, etc. , make sure that notice requirements – fax, mail, certified mail, email, etc – are included in the agreement.

In summary, it is better to be very specific about visitation details and to keep records than wind up in court later to when there are ambiguities.

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