Reasonable vs. fixed visitation

| May 2, 2021 | Family Law |

Getting a divorce can take an emotional toll on everyone involved — including children. Most North Carolina parents understand this and are eager to prioritize child custody matters during this process. However, even the most wellintentioned parents can be left feeling confused over some of the terminology related to custody. For example, there is a difference between reasonable and fixed visitation. 

What is reasonable visitation? 

If a family court judge decides that a noncustodial parent is entitled to reasonable visitation, it means that the visitation schedule is up to the parents. This is usually the best option when parents are still capable of cooperation, as it allows parents to create a visitation schedule that works well with their schedules. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to this approach. The parent with primary custody has most of the power when it comes to reasonable visitation, and can choose to be inflexible or even withhold access to a child. 

What is fixed visitation? 

A fixed visitation system is when a judge orders when — and sometimes even where — the noncustodial parent will have visitation. For example, a judge might order that the noncustodial parent will have visitation rights on the weekends, during summer break or for certain holidays. Some of the reasons fixed visitation might be preferable to reasonable include if: 

  • There is still parental conflict going on 
  • The parents are unwilling to cooperate 
  • There is a concern about lack of stability for the involved child 

There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach to visitation or any other child custody matter. Instead, North Carolina parents who are going through a divorce should be focused on what will work best for their situation. Visitation — like all other child custody matters — should ultimately come down to whatever is in the child’s best interests.