The day a judge in a Virginia court finalized your divorce decree, you began to move on in life apart from the person who had been your spouse. However, you in no way abdicated your parental rights or obligations. In fact, if you’re like many other parents who divorce, you might have been a bit worried about your new role as a non-custodial parent, hoping your co-parenting plan runs smoothly and that you are able to maintain a close and active relationship with your children.
Besides the most tangible difference between being a custodial or non-custodial parent, which, of course, is the fact that your kids don’t live with you on a full-time basis, there are other issues that are helpful to keep in mind when your main goal is to focus on the children’s best interests. It’s also a good idea to know where to seek support if problems arise, especially concerning legal issues.
The visitation schedule is legally enforceable
When you seek approval from the court regarding your child custody plan in divorce, you and your ex become legally bound to adhere to the terms of the court order. Having a court order in place helps alleviate a lot of potential confusion and stress, especially if one of the parties involved disregards the order.
If you’re the non-custodial parent, it is critical to everyone involved that you adhere to the visitation schedule. Problems often arise if parents fail to show up for visit days but never let their co-parents or kids know they’re not coming. Even if you do let them know, you should have legitimate reasons for not being there because repeatedly veering from the terms of the court order may prompt a judge to find you in contempt.
Are there special conditions attached to visitation?
In some situations, a judge overseeing a particular child custody case might rule that a non-custodial parent can only visit his or her children under officially approved supervision. If you’re involved in a situation like this, it’s especially important that you obey.
While it may seem natural to a parent to want to spend time with children privately, going against a court order to do so can land you in a heap of legal trouble.
Are you paying child support?
You might be one of many non-custodial parents in Virginia who pay child support. While the court has discretion to order a specific amount and specific arrangement details according to the merits of an individual case, you are not free to change the plan without first receiving the court’s permission.
You might lose a job or have a medical urgency that creates expenses you weren’t expecting. These and other issues may impede your ability to keep up with child support payments. In such cases, you can bring the issue to the court’s attention and ask for temporary stay of the order or for the amount or frequency of payments to be changed. However, ceasing to send payments on time without the court’s permission is never a good idea.