Legal Professionals of Hirsch & Ehlenberger

What is the impact of short-term vs. long-term parenting time?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2023 | Child Custody

Following the divorce, ex-spouses must still fulfill their parental obligations. The court may have awarded primary physical custody to one parent, while the noncustodial parent may have a parenting time schedule.

Per Virginia law, parenting time can be synonymous with visitation or quality time spent with the child. The state maintains that both parties must have frequent and continuing contact with their child. Parents can achieve this by developing parenting time arrangements.

These agreements can be short-term or long-term, each with its unique implications.

Weighing between immediacy and stability

Parents often use short-term parenting time agreements as a temporary fix to transition their family into the new dynamics immediately. It can provide an urgent structure while they work on a more permanent plan. This setup may especially apply if there are likely changes in the near future, such as a parent relocating for work or the child going on break for the holidays.

Conversely, long-term parenting time agreements are typically more comprehensive. It considers several factors relevant to the child’s growing needs, such as their education, physical health, social life and emotional well-being. This option may provide stability and predictability to the child’s routines.

Regardless of the path parents choose, potential drawbacks are inevitable. Disputes may escalate as they struggle to set aside their differences and make necessary compromises. The child may also experience emotional turmoil adjusting to varying living conditions.

Striking a balance

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to a family’s parenting time needs. There will always be critical nuances that can suit one situation and may not work for another.

Thus, both parents need to consider the child’s immediate and future needs. With proper legal guidance, they can craft a balanced parenting time agreement that protects the child’s best interests.


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