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What Does “Reasonable Times, Reasonable Notice” Visitation Mean?

Every once in awhile we see “traditional placement” arrangements. This means that one parent has “primary placement” of the children, and the other parent has visitation rights. Many times, they are afforded “reasonable times, reasonable notice” visitation. Primary placement is defined as one parent having the children at least 75% of the time, counted as overnight placement, in the course of the calendar year. The other parent, has periods of alternate placement (what we formerly use to call visitation) less than 25% of the time, also counted as overnights. When the court orders reasonable times-reasonable notice placement, or the parties agree to those terms, it means the non-custodial parent must ask permission of the other parent when they want to see the children. “Reasonable notice” is usually defined as 24 hours in advance. In addition to the notice, you must also ask permission as to when you want to see the children. This empowers the primary custodial parent to have veto power over the request. If the request is not reasonable, or insufficient notice is given or the custodial parent already has plans with the children, they can respectfully turn down the request. In the event that every time a person asks to see the children and the custodial parent says no, that would be considered interference with the other parent’s placement rights and could result in a finding of contempt. You cannot say no every time the non custodial parent requests placement time. If the request is timely made and the request is reasonable, the primary placement should cooperate and allow the non custodial parent the right to spend time with the children.

The law in Wisconsin since May 2000 has been to allow both parents to have what is referred to under the statute as “substantial and significant periods of placement with both parents.” The law encourages parents to consider shared and equal placement arrangements, not the old traditional placement of the children wind up with only one parent, and the other parent visits once or twice during the week and every other weekend. While certainly, in some circumstances, it may be appropriate in a particular family to have a traditional placement arrangement, and afford the non-custodial parent “reasonable times, reasonable notice” placement, having such an arrangement clearly empowers the custodial parent to say no, whenever reasonably they feel like doing so, whether the request is not timely made, or custodial parent already has plans with the children. This of course angers and frustrates the non-custodial parent who feels that their placement is constantly interfered with and yields ongoing post judgment contempt motions to enforce their visitation rights. It is ill advised to have such an open ended schedule. Rather, in negotiating a placement schedule, whether a traditional placement arrangement or shared and/or equal placement arrangement, it is much better to have a specific schedule with days and times spelled out, so both parents can follow the schedule and one parent doesn’t get the right to continually say “no” to the other parent. While it does not guarantee that there may not be problems with the schedule and keep the parties out of court, it is less likely to breed conflict and continued litigation, unlike simply having language in the court decree that provides the non custodial parent “reasonable times, reasonable notice” placement.

A person going through a divorce may have many questions about custody and placement of their minor children. If you don’t know who to turn to, you can trust the experienced family lawyers at the law firm of Karp & Iancu, S.C.

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