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Child custody: what is 'reasonable' versus 'fixed' visitation?

It goes without saying that most parents in Ohio want to raise their child in a healthy, loving and nurturing environment. So, if a parent is going through a divorce they may fear that it will threaten the stability in their child's life. Moreover, they may want to ensure that they are able to spend enough time with their child post-divorce so that they can maintain a close relationship with their child.

However, it is not always the case that following a divorce a child will spend exactly half of his or her time with each parent. Oftentimes one parent is awarded physical custody of the child, and the other parent is awarded visitation with the child. This visitation may either be reasonable visitation or fixed visitation.

Reasonable visitation may sound generous but, in reality, when a judge awards a parent reasonable visitation, it is up to the parents to develop a visitation schedule. Sometimes, if the parents remain on good terms with one another, this option is preferred as it allows parents to develop a plan that accommodates their schedules. However, it is often the case that the custodial parent will have more of a say as to what reasonable visitation is, as they are not bound to agree to any visitation arrangements. However, if they are trying to keep the child away from the noncustodial parent without good reason, then the noncustodial parent may want to bring the matter before a judge.

A fixed visitation schedule, on the other hand, is one in which the court will determine when and where visitation will take place. For example, the noncustodial parent may enjoy visitation time certain weeknights and every other weekend. Sometimes a court will prefer to order fixed visitation if it is apparent that the child's parents' relationship is so toxic that it would be impossible for them to make visitation arrangements on their own.

In the end, whether it is through reasonable visitation or fixed visitation a child deserves not only to have stability in his or her life, but also to maintain a meaningful relationship with both of his or her parents. Parents in Ohio who have questions about child custody and visitation after a divorce may want to seek the advice they need to better understand their rights.

Source: FindLaw, "Parental Visitation Rights FAQ," Accessed Oct. 9, 2017

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