Visitation rights are afforded to the non-custodial parent in a situation involving divorce and child custody. The terms of visitation are laid out in what is called a “Child Visitation Agreement” or “Child Visitation Schedule.”
First and foremost, the court takes the child’s best interests into consideration, and will then consider other factors such as:
Courts generally prefer both parents have an active role in their child’s life. However, if there are past issues such as abuse or domestic violence, the judge will most certainly take these into consideration, and may require supervised visitation, and in rare cases, no visitation.
A child visitation agreement is between two parties with the shared goal of creating a visitation schedule with their child. The arrangement outlines each parent’s visitation rights, their duties, and responsibilities to their child. It is best if the parents can reach an agreement together, but if not, the court will intervene. A typical agreement may include:
State laws vary, though it is not uncommon for the parent with sole custody to create the visitation schedule. He or she will then submit it to the court, and if the judge approves, it will be a court order.
If both parents can cooperate with one another, they may reach an agreement together without court approval. Since circumstances can change, it is recommended to submit the agreement to a judge, which would make it legally enforceable in case something goes wrong.
If both parties can come to an agreement on child visitation, and submit it to the judge, it can be a fairly painless process. However, tensions may be high in custody cases, and child visitation guidelines may have to be left to the court.
Typically, child visitation arrangements can be broken down into one of two types:
In supervised visitation cases, the judge will specify the time and duration of visits, and will also designate the third party who will perform the supervision.
Together, or with a mediator, write down all of the important issues pertaining to the rearing of your child, making sure you are placing your child’s best interests first. Also include the following:
It is not uncommon for a visitation schedule to be modified. Life can get busy; jobs change, people move and children become more active. If you need to modify, try to work out an agreement with the other party, then submit it to the judge.
A visitation schedule is only enforceable if it has been approved by a judge, or if the parties have written a legal contract. Even if you already have an agreement worked out, it is still recommended to seek approval from the court.
If one party violates the visitation schedule, serious consequences may come into play, especially if it continues. A parent may lose visitation rights, be in contempt of court, or face criminal charges.
Schedule violations typically occur when a parent keeps the child over the scheduled time, or one parent denies the other their rights to visitation. If you have an issue with the visitation schedule, contact your attorney immediately.
If you are in the process of figuring out a visitation agreement, a family law attorney can assist you drafting the agreement, as well as filing it with the court. Custody arrangements can be highly contentious, and having a lawyer work out the details and represent your interests can be invaluable when it comes to your parental rights.
Last Modified: 09-15-2017 03:32 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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