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How parents can optimize their visitation rights after divorce

If your co-parent has primary physical custody of your kids and you have been granted visitation rights, it's understandable that you may be frustrated by your inability to spend as much time with them as you'd like. Whether the arrangement is one that you and your co-parent agreed on (perhaps because you have moved some distance away) or it's been ordered by a court, it's essential to help your kids understand the arrangement and to make the most of your time with them.

Kids need to be able to rely on the visitation schedule that's been worked out. This helps them maintain a sense of stability and predictability that children of divorce often lose.

It's often helpful for them to have a calendar that they can keep in their room or easily see in some central location that clearly shows when they'll be with each parent. Paper calendars are usually the best -- particularly for young kids. Parents can help kids decorate and color them.

Once a schedule is in place, it's crucial for parents to stick to it. If you're the parent with visitation as opposed to custody, it's essential that you don't change or back out of your scheduled visitation time unless it's absolutely necessary. If you need to change the schedule (or your co-parent does), do so as far in advance as possible and make sure that your kids are informed. Don't spring changes on them at the last minute unless you have no choice.

If you don't feel like you have enough time with your kids, connect with them between visits. You may want to schedule a Skype chat or phone call each day after school or at bedtime. On the weekends that you don't see them, schedule a time to talk or otherwise keep in touch. As with the visitation schedule, it's essential to stick to it reliably.

Whenever you're spending time with your kids, whether in person or over a phone or computer, keep your focus on them. Avoid multitasking with work phone calls or watching TV (unless it's something you're doing with them).

If you're having problems with your co-parent regarding your agreed-on "allocation of parental responsibilities," as Colorado law refers to them and are unable to resolve them, talk to your Colorado family law attorney about your legal options.

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