There are many reasons you may find yourself in a position where you have limited Visitation with your children due to a family law case. Whether the cause of that limited Visitation Is due to actions on your part or other circumstances such as your employment situation, it doesn't make your limited time with the kids any easier for you to handle. We all want to spend time with our kids and have that equal time as much as possible. To have that time taken away as a result of a family law case can be especially difficult to stomach. However, that does not mean that you cannot take advantage of the time you have with your children to build your relationship with them.
A large part of any child custody case, be it within a divorce or as a standalone case, determines possession in Visitation with those kids. If you ask any person who has gone through a divorce or child custody case, they will likely tell you that they focused on the most in the issue that was the most important to them was Visitation and possession of their children. Whether or not your case turned out the way you want it regarding Visitation and control is another story altogether. Given that you are now living your life after a family law case, it is impossible to go back and change the events of that case and the results for you and your family.
Instead, I would like to spend a little time today discussing how you can make the best out of the limited Visitation that you may have with your kids. We're all familiar with the phrase: it's not about quantity. It's about quality. You could use this phrase as your motto regarding the Visitation that you have with your children. Don't look at this Visitation as a punishment or proof that you are not a good parent. Instead, look at this Visitation that you have as an opportunity to build your relationship and as a springboard to possibly increase the visitation time you have with your children in the future.
Why might you have ended up with limited Visitation with your children?
This is a relevant question to ask at this point in today's blog post, especially if you are a person reading who has not yet gone through a family law case. For the most part, limited visitation time with your children Is more in the eye of the beholder than anything else. Depending on how you look at Visitation and what sort of contact you are used to with your children, The Visitation you receive in a family law case may not seem limited to you but may seem limited to other people. Let's go through the types of Visitation for the non-primary conservator parent so that you can understand what visitation options may be available to you.
Suppose you are not named the primary conservator of every children column and therefore can determine the primary residence of every kid. In that case, you may be able to wind up with split custody of your children. This is a goal that many parents, particularly fathers, tend to have at the beginning of their case. Thinking about fairness and equity, a parent will want to wind up with as much time with their kids as the other parent. It also doesn't hurt that no child support may have to be paid if you and your spouse end up splitting custody with the kids after the divorce.
Split custody means pretty much what you think it would: you and your co-parent will split time with your children as close to 50/50 as possible. The way you divide up your days can be up to you, but the overall thrust of split custody is that you all will share time with your children as Evenly as possible. A divided custody schedule works quite well for parents with flexible schedules and a willingness to make changes as they need to during any given year.
The tried and true method of possession for a non-primary parent is a standard possession order. If you know any parents who have gone through a divorce, I am willing to bet a handful of them have Visitation with their children under a standard possession order. The first, third, and 5th weekends of each month belong to the parent with visitation rights. Extended possession times in the summer, trading off alternating Holidays during the fall and winter, and a night to have dinner during the school week are hallmarks of the standard possession order.
Most parents either have split custody, something like it, or a standard possession order in place if they are not the primary parent. There need to be unique circumstances in the area for limited Visitation to be ordered. You may have limited Visitation with your children because you have a work schedule that does not allow you to see your children at regular intervals. For instance, if you are in the military color and are serving the nation in some capacity in another country, travel frequently, or have other work commitments, you may voluntarily agree to have limited Visitation with your children.
On the other hand, you may have previously engaged in behavior where it is believed that you are having a standard amount of Visitation with her children is not appropriate, at least right now. For example, suppose you have engaged in repeated drug use, have problems with drinking and driving, have abused your children or spouse, or have engaged in behavior that has put your children at risk of harm. In that case, you will likely not be able to have standard possession.
If you find yourself in this group of parents, it can be even more difficult for you to come to grips with the limited time you have with your children. Having circumstances beyond your control which limit the time with your children is one thing. It is quite another to half two understand that your behavior caused the limited time you have with your children. However, that does not mean that you shouldn't take steps to do whatever you can to take advantage of the time that you do have with your children. Here are some ways for parents to take advantage of the time that they have with their kids.
How to make the best of whatever time you have with your kids after a family law case
I will start by saying that there is no way for me to tell you exactly how to take the most advantage of the time that you have with your children. Every parent-child relationship is unique, and I have no way of knowing your relationship with your children. However, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that your relationship with your children is not exactly what you want it to be. While you may have played some role in the lack of connection you share with your kids, the reality may be that outside circumstances at play have contributed to your less than stellar relationship with your kids. However, now that your family law case is over and you have a consistent schedule set up to visit your children, the ball is in your court to take advantage of this time.
As with most of the advice that I provide in this blog, I will tell you that you need to be intentional about taking advantage of the time and making the most of every opportunity you spend with your kids moving forward. If you ask any parent who has a great relationship with their kids, they would likely tell you that they make a conscious effort to be present with their children, both physically and mentally, at every opportunity they have. If you think about it for a moment, this is probably more difficult to achieve than you might believe.
For one, if you only have limited time to spend with your children, You should not have anything around you to divert your attention from them when you are fortunate enough to have time with your kids. The simplest thing I can tell you is to keep your phone out of sight when you have the kids at your home with you; we're all coming off of a multiple-month time where we have been spending a lot of time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. While this may have been the safest thing from a public health perspective, one of the unintended consequences of these stay-at-home orders is that we have all spent more time utilizing technology than probably ever before.
This is the most straightforward enacted piece of advice that I can provide you with. Do not take for granted any of the time that you have with your kids. Do not put yourself in a position where you are liable to spend more time on your phone than you are paying attention to the kids you desperately want to be with more frequently. If you spend all week thinking about your kids and how much you want to be with them and then wind up spending as much time looking at your phone while they're at your home as you do play with them, then that is a significant problem.
Finally, I recommend that you devote more time and energy to building experiences with your children than buying them things. Depending on the age of your children, this may be easier said than done. However, it is my experience that children typically remember experiences better than they do things in toys. It is tempting to shower your children with gifts if you do not get to see them very often, but the children will remember you showering them with time in love much more straightforward than they will remember the gifts you bought for them at Target.
Yes, devoting energy to your kids will require some effort and discipline of self. Playing with Legos or doing dress-up games with your daughters may not be the most exciting thing in the world to you, but to them, it means everything. Think about it from their perspective: your kids rarely see you, and when they do see you, they want and need you to show your devotion to them simply through your time. This is simultaneously one of the easiest and most difficult things to give to our children. If time with your kids is in limited supply for you due to a family law case, do not look a gift horse in the mouth. Remember, your willingness to take advantage of the time you have with your kids can help build a relationship with your children and give you evidence that more time is needed with your children in the future. You may be able to turn your limited Visitation Into more time with your kids, either informally with your co-parent or formally through a modification case through the courts.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Brian Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in serving our neighbors in Southeast Texas and look forward to speaking to you about the services that we can provide to your family, as well.