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The Complexity of Visitation Plans

How Child Support is Determined in California

Things To Keep in Mind When You're Trying to Work Out A Visitation Plan Between The Parents.

Keep in mind that a judge wants to have as much visitation time as possible with each parent. So if one parent is working 16 hours a day, a judge is going to want to place the children with the parent who’s not working as much. And when you’re trying to work out a schedule, keep in mind that a judge doesn’t want to give custodial time to one parent when that parent is just gonna turn around and give the children to a babysitter or daycare when the other parent is available. What does that mean? Let’s say for example, that you have a stay at home mother and you have a father who works a normal eight to five job every day. A judge is very likely not going to order a 50/50 timeshare in that kind of situation because when the father is at work, if he had custodial time with the children while he’s at work, he’s just gonna turn around and put the children in daycare or with a babysitter. And why would a judge have small children with a babysitter if mom is sitting at home watching TV at her house? Obviously a judge is gonna want a parent that is available to have that time with the children.

What if the children go to school?

Now, let’s say we have one stay-at-home parent and another one that works, but the children are of school age and they’re at school from eight in the morning until three o’clock in the afternoon. In that case, a judge might very well do a 50/50 time share because even though mom is at home all day long, the children are still at school. So dad’s not really placing the kid with a babysitter. The children are at school and it’s normal for children to have after school care for a couple hours until dad can pick them up at say 5, 5:15 at night. So then that is a different situation where a parent who does work could still fight for 50/50 custody even though they have a 9-to-5 job and the other parent does not work.
So it may be difficult to understand the advice here because the situation changes. Every single family is different, every single situation is different. Maybe one parent works part-time, maybe one parent works 18 hours a day because they’re a doctor. Maybe they’re a police officer or a fireman where they work three solid days, 12 hour days, or even 24 hours a day like a fireman, and then they have four days in a row off work totally. So then it would obviously make sense to give that fireman or that police officer more custody during those days when they have work off because they have all of that time available to take care of the kids.They could take the kids to school in the morning. They could pick the kids up from school after school. They could give them a snack and help them with homework, feed them dinner, they’re at home all night long while the children are there. And then they can get up in the morning again the next day and help the kids get ready for school and take them to school again. So it really just boils down to understanding that judges want to place custody with the parent that has the available time for the kids. Keep that in mind. It’s not just, women get custody most of the time and men don’t get custody because they’re men and they’re women.
It’s because, granted this is changing rapidly, men typically have longer work hours than women. And if that’s the case, then the judge wants dad to go to work and earn the money because it is expensive to raise children. So they need money to pay for food and pay for rent and pay for electricity and shoes and clothing for the kids.
So if one person works more and they earn more money, a judge would want to keep that going. And if the other one is not working, then they want that person to be available to care for the kids before school and after school. I know that sounds unfair. I know that sounds inequitable. I get it. I totally understand that. But the judge doesn’t care about what is fair. The judge is just concerned about taking care of these kids in the best way possible.

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