What Does “Liberal And Reasonable” Visitation Mean?
My ex and I have 2 kids, and the divorce decree gives me custody, with him having “liberal and reasonable visitation”, including but not limited to the usual every other weekend, split holidays, etc. He seems to think that the words “liberal and reasonable” give him the right to tell me which extra days he will have and that I cannot refuse these days without giving him a valid reason.
The kids are at his house this weekend, and I offered him Tuesday night as well. He told me that he will be taking Monday night as well, and I didn’t agree to that. Now he’s stating that I’m hurting the relationship with his children and that I am refusing requests for additional time. How do I handle these situations? Every time I try to negotiate on extra time, he demands more and threatens me with legal action.
Most visitation orders will state “liberal and reasonable visitation” child visitation and will then outline what is to occur if the parents can’t agree on what is “liberal and reasonable.”
For example, it is common for the visitation order to state something like, “The non-custodial parent shall have liberal visitation rights with the children and shall have the right to visit with the children at all reasonable times and places. Should the parties be unable to agree as to what is reasonable, the NCP shall have the following specific visitation rights with said children:” And then it lists specifics.
In a case like yours the above clause would protect you from the ongoing conflict with your ex and motivate him to be more inclined to negotiate with you instead of throw his weight around.
I suggest you carefully read your visitation clause and see if it outlines what is to take place should you two not come to an agreement on what is “liberal and reasonable” child visitation. If your decree doesn’t address this you need to have the wording modified to be more specific.
I can’t imagine a divorce attorney who would allow you to sign an agreement that didn’t fully outline a visitation schedule in case of such a conflict. If there isn’t wording in your decree that takes care of what is to take place if you two can’t agree you need to contact the attorney who handled your divorce and ask him/her what steps you need to take to have the wording modified.
As an aside, I’ve never understood why the courts think that divorcing parents would be able to agree on what is “liberal and reasonable” when it comes to child visitation. Due to that I always encourage clients to not allow the language be used in a visitation order. In my opinion it is just another example of the family court dropping the ball and failing to discourage conflict after divorce.