Should There Be Overnight Visitation or Parenting Time on School Nights?

This blog article will discuss the pros and cons of overnight parenting time to the non-residential custodial parent onschool nights.  Discovering a schedule for parenting time or child visitation that works for both parties involved in a divorce or child custody case, as well as the children in question can be one of the most important things a single parent does. After all, child custody cases or divorce is difficult enough upon existing family dynamics, without the confusion of an ever-changing and disruptive visitation schedule adding extra problems into the mix. Whether drafting an initial example for a possible parenting time plan, or attempting to make sense of the schedule that the court has presented to you, it’s crucial to remember that different scenarios work better with different circumstances. Ultimately, the visitation that is ordered by the court, and the plans you come up with through mediation and other measures, should reflect the best interests of the children.

Although each family is unique, there are some arrangements in the world of custody that have gathered more popularity than others – remaining a favorite of many family court counselors and parents who choose to develop their own parenting plans. Indeed, I often see many parents opting for the most common “alternating weekend” schedule, with some modifications here and there designed to cater for specific families. However, parenting time schedules are much more flexible than you might think, and there are other options available when it comes to meeting the individual needs of each unique family. For instance, you might find that your ideal schedule allows for extended weekend visitations that permit the children to have more time with the non-custodial parent. On the other hand, you might even look into the possibility of mid-week overnight visitation.  However, sometimes that might not be in the best interest of the children.  Whether or not overnight visitation on school nights is appropriate really depends on the specific family.

Parents that agree to midweek overnight visitation schedules often agree upon weekly visits, however at times it is on alternating weeks, as it’s important to maintain a relatively predictable schedule when adjusting visitation times and helping children to adjust to the new status quo after divorce. Though they may seem reasonably straightforward, mid-week and school night overnight visitation considerations represent a particular point of complication in visitation and custody agreements, as it’s difficult to determine whether these schedules are in the best interests of the child, or simply in the best interests of the non-custodial parent. It is crucial to consider the pre-existing factors when making decisions like these regarding visitation and parenting time. For example, parents need to think about the school routine of the child, any extra-curricular activities they take part in, and how difficult it will be for the non-custodial parent to take the child to school in time on Monday mornings or otherwise without disrupting their regular sleep schedule.

Some believe, Sunday night or midweek overnight visitation is a bad idea, as it can be disruptive to pass children back and forth throughout the week when they are attempting to follow a regular school schedule. For these individuals, a mid-week visit may be reasonable if it is not an over-night stay, but they follow the concerns that overnight visitation that takes a child away from their primary caregiver and regular routines may cause serious disruption to the child. This may be a particular point of concern for families wherein the child is used to spending a lot of time with the custodial parent, but is not used to spending time away from their family home with the non-custodial parent. In these circumstances, additional mid-week visitations overnight may cause additional stress that has an impact on the child’s ability to concentrate at school, get homework done, or achieve healthy growth and development.

Alternatively, other people are of the view that if the distance between the residences of both parents is close enough that the non-custodial parent should be able to take the child to school the following day, and maintain a reasonable schedule, then the midweek visit could benefit from being an overnight event. By allowing for a midweek overnight visit, and further extending the weekends through to Monday mornings too, the noncustodial parent will have more time to spend with the child or children. This is particularly beneficial because the children are able to spend additional time building a relationship in a continuous way with the other parent. What’s more, the additional time removes the risk that the non-custodial parent starts to be seen as the fun time parent, who is only seen for short weekends and evenings built on fun, entertainment, and treats – rather than normal parenting.

To this extent, some research has been done into the debate over parenting plans for toddlers and infants, finding that, in most circumstances, overnight visitation should not provide negative outcomes for the children involved.  In fact, some studies have indicated that additional time spent with the non-custodial parent can be more beneficial for younger children. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules here as to what is best for any particular child.  There are studies out there as well, on the other hand, which conclude that there should not be overnight visitation to the non-residential custodial parent at all until children reach a certain age. While it can be easier for everyone if the same days of the week are spent with a specific parent, because a regular schedule is maintained, how that schedule looks will be up to the unique needs of the children, and the parents involved. As with most situations in regards to child custody, visitation, and parenting time, the results that are decided upon by the courts and the parents should always depend entirely on the individual circumstances, and the best interests of a child.

One point to keep in mind, regardless of whether you choose to promote midweek overnight visitation or not, is that establishing a routine for children pursuant to a child custody case in family court or following a divorce, can be beneficial in helping to ease their transition from one set of family dynamics to another. Putting the custody and visitation schedule in your mind and establishing a scenario that works for everyone is crucial for avoiding additional conflict and stress.

To learn more about parenting time, child visitation, custody, or to discuss some of the complexities involved in family law and divorce, please call or schedule an appointment with Mr. Darren M. Shapiro at your earliest convenience, or continue to browse through our webpages and blogs. You can access friendly advice either through a phone call at 516-333-6555, or by filling out our online form.

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