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Child visitation laws are those which are used to determine if and when the non-custodial parent will spend time with the child after a divorce or separation. Child visitation laws and child custody laws are inextricably linked, for the same principles are applied in each case to determine the rights of each parent. Child visitation laws recognize two types of custody: legal and physical.
Legal custody determines who will make the major decisions affecting the child's health, education, welfare, and more. Physical custody refers to who the child will spend his/her time with. Child visitation laws allow for physical custody (and, possibly legal custody) to be shared between the two parents and sometimes other caretakers. This is often referred to as joint custody.
When two parents get divorced, joint custody is one available parenting option. Regardless of circumstance, the child visitation laws are governed by the best interest principle, meaning that they will judge in favor of the parenting option that best serves the interests and welfare of the children involved. In some cases, the court will grant sole custody to one parent and the other will not have any child visitation rights. In many cases, the court prefers to allow both parents to play a role in their child's life by granting joint custody.
When joint child custody is awarded, one parent will be given primary or custodial custody of the child and the other, non custodial parent, will be given child visitation rights. Child visitation laws allow two parents to negotiate the terms of child visitation as they see fit, providing that the arrangement meets the best needs of the children and both parents can agree to the terms. Child visitation laws allow for the negotiation of this arrangement by way of mediation or court order.
Mediation involves a neutral third party who facilitates discussion between the two parents so that a mutually acceptable and reasonable parenting plan can be developed without going to court. This allows two parents to work out a parenting plan that best meets their needs as well as their child's needs. If two parents are not able to reach an agreement, child visitation laws state that the court can intercede to determine this arrangement.
There are many cases where a parenting plan may be difficult for two parents to negotiate, in which case the family court will step in. In most cases when the court will allow the non custodial parent to spend time with the child every other weekend and other important days and holidays. This agreement is binding though it can be modified when necessary. Child visitation laws exist so that a parent and other caretakers (such as grandparents and step parents) are able to spend time with the child as they grow up. Child visitation laws are made in the best interests of the children, rather than the adults in their lives.
If you would like to learn more about child visitation laws, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced family law attorney who can evaluate your case to determine how best to protect and maximize your legal interests.
More information on custody:
Child custody rights may be shared by both parents or, primary child custody rights may be awarded to one parent or legal guardian. Since the 1970s the family court will award child custody rights contingent with the best interests of the child.
Child custody for fathers following a divorce is one of the most important aspects of a dissolving marriage. Throughout history the legal presumptions about child custody for fathers has changed significantly. Before the twentieth century children were regarded as the property of their father. Under common law, child custody for fathers was commonly awarded, as children were considered a father's rightful property. A major shift occurred after this period in history, as family courts came to favor mothers in child custody cases. It was presumed that under normal circumstances, children did better when placed in the sole custody of their mothers.