What is Reasonable Visitation?

Posted On July 17, 2023 Custody,Divorce

During a Washington divorce or separation, determining child custody and visitation arrangements can be a sensitive and complex process. In Washington State, the court prioritizes the best interests of the child while considering “reasonable visitation” to ensure a healthy and stable environment for the child to maintain relationships with both parents.

What Does Reasonable Visitation Mean?

Reasonable visitation, also known as “reasonable right of visitation,” is a custody arrangement wherein parents have the flexibility to work out visitation schedules without strict adherence to a fixed timetable. This approach aims to give parents the opportunity to adapt the visitation plan to meet the evolving needs of the child and the family. Unlike a fixed visitation schedule, reasonable visitation is more fluid and encourages cooperation between parents to decide what works best for their child.

If parents with a reasonable visitation arrangement find that it is no longer working or significant changes in their lives affect the child’s best interests, they can seek modifications in mediation or court intervention.

Benefits of Reasonable Visitation


Reasonable visitation allows parents to adapt the visitation schedule to accommodate the child’s changing needs, school commitments, extracurricular activities, and other family events.

Less Stressful for Children

The absence of rigid visitation schedules can reduce stress and anxiety for children, as they have more time to spend with both parents and establish stronger bonds.

Cooperative Parenting

Parents are encouraged to work collaboratively to make decisions in the best interests of their child, promoting a healthier co-parenting relationship.

Drawbacks of Reasonable Visitation

Unequal Time Distribution

In some cases, one parent may have significantly more time with the child than the other due to the absence of a fixed visitation schedule. This imbalance can lead to resentment or a perception of one parent being less involved in the child’s life.

Potential for Conflict

If parents have a history of high conflict or do not communicate well, reasonable visitation may exacerbate disagreements and disputes. This can negatively impact the child’s emotional well-being and stability.

Inconsistent Routine

Without a set schedule, the child’s routine may be less predictable, potentially affecting their sense of stability and security. Children may struggle with frequent changes and uncertainty, particularly if parents struggle to coordinate their time effectively.

Lack of Court Enforcement

Unlike fixed visitation schedules included in formal parenting plans, reasonable visitation may not have the same level of court-enforced structure. If disputes arise and parents cannot agree on visitation arrangements, there may be limited legal recourse available to resolve the issue.

What is a Fixed Visitation Schedule?

A fixed visitation schedule typically specifies the exact days and times when the non-custodial parent will spend time with the child. For example, it may state that the non-custodial parent will have visitation every other weekend from Friday evening to Sunday evening.

The schedule also often includes arrangements for holidays, school breaks, and special occasions, ensuring that both parents get to spend time with the child during significant events. In addition, the locations for pick-up and drop-off may be specified, providing clarity to both parents on where to exchange the child.

Fixed visitation schedules can be reviewed and modified periodically, typically when there are significant changes in the child’s or parents’ circumstances or if the current arrangement no longer meets the child’s best interests. For more questions, speak to a Spokane family lawyer today.

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