Divorced parents sometimes struggle with visitation issues, and any problem between them quickly becomes the child's crisis. Here are some visitation guidelines that will maintain a positive environment for the child:

Focus on the child

Children deserve to feel loved by both parents, regardless of the behavioral choices of the parent. If you say encouraging things about good experiences the child has with the ex-spouse, the child will be more willing to visit.

Leave the child out of it

Children shouldn't be the messengers for arranging visitation times, rescheduling, or cancelling visits. This puts the children in an adult role of making plans, while the parents are acting like children who can't communicate. Email, text, and other means provide alternatives to direct communication without putting children in the middle.

Child exchange

Sometimes an ex-spouse behaves badly during child exchange, or will not show up as scheduled, or make false claims about that time you interact. In these cases, it is best if you make arrangements with the court to have child exchange at a local police department (or halfway between you). This way you can document what time each of you arrived, as well as have witnesses if your ex acts out.

Stick to the schedule

If you were given a visitation schedule by the court, stick to it! Making lots of changes will look bad to the court if your ex takes you back, and asking for exceptions will give a badly behaved ex power against you. Besides the drama with your ex-spouse, the structure and routine of a designated visitation schedule will provide consistency and stability for your child.


Teach your child that togetherness is the important part of holidays, not a specific calendar date. When holiday visitations alternate every year, or rigid weekends don't adapt to birthdays, there will be some days you are not together on certain dates. But you can celebrate on an alternative day of your choosing, and enjoy every tradition you always do.

Children need time with both parents, and adjusting between them can be a challenge for both parent and child. Following agreed guidelines for visitation issues will help make it a positive experience for the child and a smoother process for the parents.

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