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How Is Visitation Determined?

10 min read
Flora Tan

by Flora Tan

In most cases, courts will decide on visitation rights after considering the child’s best interests. Factors that may influence visitation arrangements include the child’s age, mental and emotional health, the physical health of each parent, the child’s preference if they are old enough to express a meaningful opinion, and any history of abuse. In some cases, the court may also consider the financial circumstances of each parent when determining visitation rights. In most cases, the court will exercise visitation rights reasonably, allowing both parents to maintain an ongoing relationship with the child.

Visitation Schedule

Visitation decisions are often both difficult and delicate. Visitation schedules are essential for providing structure and consistency in relationships and helping to maintain appropriate boundaries. Visitation schedules allow both parties involved to plan and coordinate activities mutually.

When non-custodial parents are awarded visitation rights, they must be respected. It is in the best interest of the child that both parents remain involved in their lives.

Custody Order

The custody order often grants one parent physical and legal custody of the child while the other may retain some visitation rights.

Guardian Ad Litem

The guardian ad litem of a child or minor has the authority to make decisions about the child’s welfare and is responsible for ensuring that all parties involved in custody proceedings adhere to the child’s best interests.

A Custodial Parent In Visitation And Custody Arrangements

The custodial parent is often the primary caretaker of a child, as they are typically granted custody by a court or in an agreement with the other parent. This parent is responsible for making decisions about the following:

  • Child’s physical or mental health
  • Education
  • Providing:
    • Housing
    • Food
    • And other necessities

Additionally, the custodial parent decides when the child will spend time with the other on special occasions, such as holidays and school breaks.

Regarding custody or visitation, older children may be able to express their opinion on which parent they prefer to have custody of.

If a non-custodial parent refuses to return a child to their custodial parent, that non-custodial parent can be charged with custodial interference.

The other parent can pay child support to the custodial parent. This arrangement ensures that the non-custodial parent contributes financially to the costs of raising a child.

If the non-custodial parent fails to pay child support, the custodial parent can take legal action to enforce payment.

Suppose it is determined that a non-custodial parent is not paying child support. In that case, the custodial parent may be able to garnish their wages or put a lien on property owned by the non-custodial parent.

Non-Custodial Parent In Custody And Visitation Issues

When a noncustodial parent is involved in custody and visitation issues, the court will evaluate several factors to determine what is in the interests of the child.

The court will consider the non-custodial parent’s willingness and ability to provide physical care and emotional support for the child, as well as the parent’s relationship with the child and their past patterns of child care.

Child Custody Arrangements

If parents live apart and one parent has custody of the child, both parents must remain involved in the child’s life. The custodial parent should strive to keep the other parent informed about the following:

  • Child’s activities
  • Progress in school
  • Health care decisions
  • Any other changes that would affect their relationship with their child

A written agreement for custody includes the terms of the parenting agreement, including any custody or visitation and communication rights.

The parents’ agreement should also specify which parent has legal custody of the child and who is responsible for making decisions about their upbringing and well-being to avert future disputes.

State laws vary as to parental rights regarding child custody.

The court may not grant physical custody to a parent if there is a history of the following:

  • Substance abuse
  • Physical violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Child abuse

According to the supreme court, the custody of a child is determined by the child’s best interest.

When dealing with reasonable visitation while in a joint custody arrangement. It cannot be easy. Both parents must understand their rights and responsibilities in a joint custody situation. As the custodial parent, you can decide your child’s care and well-being.

The other parent can petition for primary physical custody or joint physical custody. If the court awards primary physical custody to one parent, the other may be granted reasonable visitation rights.

In any case, both child’s parents remain legally responsible for the child’s welfare and have a duty to support them financially.

Sole Custody And Visitation

A sole custody arrangement is when one parent has primary legal custody of the child and provides a physical home for the child. The non-custodial parent typically has visitation rights, but their parental rights are limited compared to the custodial parent.

Additionally, a sole custody arrangement may include provisions regarding the following:

  • Decision-making
  • Education
  • Health care

The Court Can Grant Only Supervised Visitation If A Parent Has The Potential To Harm The Child

Supervised visitation is monitored between parents and children that involves an impartial, third-party adult supervisor such as a social worker or a government agency.

Supervised visitation allows families to:

  • Repair relationships
  • Establish trust
  • Build communication when risk factors could interfere with the child’s or parent’s safety

Unsupervised Visitation

Unsupervised visitation is a type of visitation in which the non-custodial parent has direct contact with the child without being supervised by another adult. This can benefit the child by allowing them to build relationships with the non-custodial parent without external pressures.

However, unsupervised visitation is unsuitable for every family and should only be used if it can be done.

Kinds Of Child Visitation

Child visitation arrangements can be as varied as the families they are designed to help. In general, however, four different kinds of child visitation arrangements can be used to meet the best interests of both parents and children.

  • Traditional Visitation: It typically includes regular parenting time for two parents, such as every other weekend or one night a week.
  • Supervised Visitation: If the court finds that a parent risks the child’s safety, supervised visitation can be ordered.
  • Split Visitation: Also known as bird’s nest visitation, this arrangement is designed to minimize disruption for the child. In this type of visitation, the parent with whom the child primarily resides remains in the family home while the other parent moves out, and then the parents switch places at predetermined times. This allows the child to stay in one house while still spending time with both parents.
  • Virtual Visitation: In virtual visitation, parents can communicate with their children via
    • Video chat
    • Phone calls
    • Emails
    • Other forms of digital communication

A Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a legal document that outlines the responsibilities of both parents after they separate or divorce.

A parenting plan can include details on where the child will live, how much time they will spend with each parent, and other important aspects of parenting, such as decision-making and communication.

Violation Of Visitation Agreements

It is essential to respect the terms of a visitation agreement. Suppose either parent fails to uphold their responsibility and does not abide by the visitation agreement regarding parenting time. In that case, the other parent can take legal action against them.

Courts will decide on appropriate punishment for any violation of visitation agreements, including:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Suspending visitation rights for a specific period

Creating A Visitation Schedule That Meets Your Needs

When creating a visitation schedule, it is important to consider the needs and preferences of everyone involved. This may include both parents and your children. You may also want to include a family who wants to spend time with your children.

Modifying Visitation Orders

In some cases, it may be necessary to modify an existing visitation order. This can occur if there has been a significant change in circumstances or if one parent desires a change in visitation rights or parenting time. Any changes to an existing visitation order must be agreed upon by both parties or approved by the court.

Prioritize Your Child’s Best Interests In A Visitation Schedule

When creating a visitation schedule for your child, it’s essential to consider their best interest. Ensure that the arrangements you make align with their physical and emotional needs.

Consider factors such as:

  • The age of your child
  • Whether they have any special requirements or disabilities
  • Additionally, look at the location of each parent’s home and whether it is easy for your child to travel between them

How Are Visitation Rights Determined FAQs

If you want to know how reasonable visitation is determined, an attorney has answered some frequently asked questions that can provide insight into your legal rights.

What Are Parents’ Visitation Rights?

Parents’ visitation rights are an essential issue in family law. Generally, parents have a right to reasonable contact with their children, including making decisions about the following:

  • Their child’s medical care
  • Education
  • Religious upbringing

The family court may deny visitation rights if the visit has the potential to cause emotional harm to the child

How Do Judges Determine Child Visitation And Custody Arrangements?

When determining child custody and visitation arrangements, a judge must consider the child’s best interest. In most cases, this includes considering the wishes of both parents and the child if they are old enough to express an opinion. The judge will look at factors such as:

  • The mental and physical health of the child and each parent
  • The emotional connection between the child and each parent
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs
  • The willingness of each parent to co-parent and cooperate with the other
  • The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community
  • Any history of abuse or neglect

Do Grandparents Have The Legal Right To Visitation?

In most states, grandparents do not have an automatic right to visitation. However, depending on the state, grandparents may be able to petition the family court for visitation rights if specific criteria are met.

Generally, the grandparent must show that:

  • A meaningful relationship exists between the child and the grandparent
  • That grandparent visitation would be in the child’s best interest
  • And that denying grandparent visitation would harm the child

Impact Of Abuse Or Endangerment Allegations On Visitation Arrangements

Visitation arrangements may be drastically changed in cases of abuse or endangerment allegations. Depending on the situation, courts may order supervised visits or put in place other protective measures for the child’s safety.

Visitation may also be suspended pending further investigation or until the situation is resolved in family court.

Hire An Unbundled Family Law Attorney To Safeguard Your Visitation Rights

As a parent, you want to respect and protect your visitation rights. Unfortunately, navigating the legal system can be complex and costly.

Without the help of a lawyer, your visitation rights could be jeopardized, and you might not even know it. You need someone who understands the legal system and will fight for your parent’s rights.

Let an unbundled family law attorney fight for your visitation rights. This will give you peace of mind knowing that somebody is on your side looking out for your best interest.

Unbundled legal services may not be suitable for all cases. Still, they can provide great value if you only need limited assistance from an experienced family law attorney.

The legal fees an unbundled attorney charges are affordable, ranging from $500 to $1500. In contrast, a typical lawyer may charge $5000 or higher.

Contact an unbundled family law attorney to protect your visitation rights.

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