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Child visitation is the time that a non custodial parent has to spend time with his/her children after a divorce or separation. The objective of child visitation is to allow both parents to be a part of the children's lives and develop a bond with them even though the marital bond between the parents no longer exists. Approximately 30 percent of all children in the United States live in single parent households and have a non custodial parent.
When children are involved in a divorce, the court will facilitate the decisions made about child custody, child visitation, and child support. There are two kinds of custody: legal and physical. Physical custody is who the child lives with, often called the custodial parent. Legal custody gives parents the right to make or influence the major decisions affecting the child's life. The courts will always use the “best interest” principle and protect the child's welfare in any rendered decision that will affect them.
Except in extreme cases, most judges believe that a child benefits most from having both parents involved in the child's life and will try to grant joint custody when appropriate. Even with joint custody, one parent will typically have primary physical custody of the child and the non-custodial parent will have child visitation rights. Parents have the right to work out a parenting plan involving child visitation as they see fit, given that they can agree to the same terms.
When two parents are able to agree to the terms of child visitation this is called “reasonable visitation.” If extenuating circumstances do not allow two parents to agree on child visitation arrangements, the court will intercede. The court may provide a mandated child visitation schedule which states how child visitation rights will be divided. Typically, the court will decide that the non custodial parent can have the child from 6pm Friday to 6pm Sunday every other weekend, some week days, and certain holidays.
While the courts prefer to allow a non-custodial parent to have child visitation rights, in some cases it is not in the child's best interest to do so. In these cases the family law judge may grant sole custody to one parent and no child visitation to the other parent is authorized. Child visitation may not be granted when the non custodial parent: has abused or neglected the child in the past; has put the child in dangerous situations; has threatened to take the child away; or abuses alcohol or drugs. Even in these situations, the non custodial parent may still be granted child visitation rights. The difference is that child visitation is supervised by a neutral adult at all times.
There are many legal issues related to child visitation including: the rights of other family members to child visitation, modification of child visitation rights, child support, temporary child visitation orders, and much more.
If you would like to learn more about child visitation laws in your state, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced attorney in your local area who can evaluate your case to determine how best to protect and maximize your legal rights.
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.