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Visitation guidelines for noncustodial parents

Noncustodial parents in Virginia normally are given visitation rights to their children, with a few exceptions such as a history of domestic violence or abuse. For noncustodial parents who do have those rights, it may be a good idea to take them seriously. Failing to show up for a scheduled visitation without notifying the child or the other parent could be taken as rejection by the child.

It is also a good idea to avoid involving third parties such as a boyfriend or girlfriend during visitation. Even if the child develops a good relationship with this person, it may be most beneficial for the child to have a parent's undivided attention. Ideally, time spent with a child should be used to maintain the parent-child bond above all else. However, it can be beneficial for a child to spend time at the noncustodial parent's house during the day or even overnight.

Visitation should be a time when both parents and the child can get along with each other. Noncustodial parents should avoid making the other parent look bad during this time. Additionally, noncustodial parents should not think of themselves as the losing parent in a divorce case. Children tend to want both parents in their lives as much as possible regardless of who got the house or status as the physical custodial parent.

Noncustodial parents may wish to take an active role in their child's life. Children who have both parents in their lives tend to have an easier time adjusting to the changes that life may bring. Talking to a family law attorney may be worthwhile for a parent who is attempting to come to an agreement in a child custody decision.

Source: Virginia State Bar, "Children & Divorce", October 12, 2014

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