Child Visitation Rights
What are Child Visitation Rights?
In a divorce and child custody setting, visitation rights refer to the rights of the non-custodial parent in seeing and spending time with the child.
The terms of visitation are usually set forth in a visitation schedule. This is essentially a court order outlining the specific circumstances under which the child may be visited. For example, the court may choose to designate alternating weekends during which the parent can spend time with their child.
What do Courts Consider When Setting Child Visitation Rights?
When validating visitation agreements, courts will always consider the best interests of the child. While they do their best to accommodate the different living situations of each parent, it is the child’s upbringing that is of the foremost concern. Courts usually consider the following factors:
- Basic information of the child such as age, gender, and mental, physical, and emotional well-being
- The child’s own preference if they are of a certain age of maturity
- The ability of the child to adjust between alternating homes
- The location of each parent, especially if they live in different counties or states
- The lifestyle and social habits of each parent
- The child’s degree of attachment to either parent
- Work history and current employment of the parents
The general principle that courts follow in assigning visitation rights is to set up a schedule that best provides the child with stability as well as ample opportunities to make contact with the non-custodial parent.
Can Visitation Schedules be Modified?
Yes, under some circumstances the schedule may be modified to reflect changes in the lives of the family members. Common situations where the schedule may be modified are if either parent relocates to a different residence, if there are substantial changes in circumstances (such as a change in employment), or if a parent’s lifestyle presents a threat to the child’s well-being.
Since visitation schedules are subject to modification, it is advisable that you register the court order with a clerk or recording office in order to ensure that a history of the schedules is accessible at any time.
Do I Need a Lawyer When Dealing with Child Visitation Rights?
Visitation arrangements in themselves already imply that the parents have been unable to reach a mutual understanding with regards to their child. Thus, it is advantageous to hire a lawyer in order to ensure that your options under the law are pursued to the fullest extent. A family law attorney can help you reach a visitation agreement that best meets the child’s interest and provides both parties with reasonable custody and visitation rights.
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Last Modified: 06-30-2011 09:05 AM PDT