What is Child Visitation Law?

The government imposed child visitation laws to allow divorced parents to spend time with the youngsters. Usually, it is the state court that grants child visitation rights. It is necessary to go through divorce proceedings to get the court's decision. As a result of visitation rights, a parent who doesn't have custody of the children can spend a specified amount of time with them.

Child visitation issues are often the reason for various arguments in court. When parents disagree on a visitation schedule, it is up to the court to resolve the quarrel and make a decision. After the court has ruled on a schedule, one of the parents might still appeal the decision if there's a reason to think that the change of circumstances warrants the modification of visitation rights. If the non-custodial parent doesn't take care of the children while spending time with them or keeps them for too long, the other parent has the right to appeal to the court to revoke the other parent's visitation rights.

Former spouses are ordinarily hostile towards each other, so child visitation disputes often have an emotional element to them. The resentment from their failed relationship lingers on and affects the atmosphere in the court. Once they split up, former partners resent each other and find it difficult to agree on child visitation issues. This may be the foundation for emotional trauma in children involved.

Types of Visitation

Establishing parent-children visitation rights is a crucial part of divorce proceedings. Without it, one of the parents wouldn't be able to see the children anymore. Here are various kinds of visitation:

  • Unsupervised visitation: Courts frequently grant this type of visitation. Throughout the process, parents can spend time with children at their family homes or outside during the scheduled hours. Sometimes there are specific rules for regulating visitation. For instance, a breastfeeding mother can not be interrupted. The other parent must wait until the baby is ready to leave.
  • Supervised visitation: On rare occasions, the courts grant supervised visitation, which means that another adult must oversee the visitation. The visiting parent can pick the individual to supervise their visitation. Often this individual is a family member. Other times, your visitation must be overseen by a social worker or another individual chosen by the court.
  • Virtual visitation: parents usually use video-conferencing tools to use their virtual visitation rights. Despite the fact that it's not an ideal medium for communication, talks over the internet can provide some solace when the parent lives far away from the kids or can't visit them in person for some other reason.

Establishing Visitation Rights

Visitation rights can not be officially obtained unless the couple is going through the divorce proceedings in court. If there's a family law case going on, the parent who wasn't chosen as children's guardian can request visitation rights. If both parties consent that the request is warranted, they will only have to provide a stipulated order document and ask the judge to sign it.

The court can only grant visitation rights if the non-custodial parent is making the child support payments.

If there's no family law case in court, the parent who wants to obtain official visitation rights must start one. If the spouses haven't yet divorced, one of the parents can ask for visitation rights as a divorce settlement. The non-custodial parent can also petition the court to rule on custody and child support issues. Parents who seek child visitation rights must prove their paternity and also demonstrate their ability to provide for children financially. Otherwise, the court will ignore their appeal for visitation rights.

Modification of a Visitation Order

The petition to change child visitation rights is often the reason for devastating legal battles.

After getting divorced and settling on the original child visitation agreement, each spouse's living and financial situation can change. One of the former partners often wants to change the child visitation agreement to reflect the changes in their life. Until the child reaches legal age, the court has the jurisdiction to make changes to the original agreement if necessary. Both parents have the right to ask for modification. The amount of child support payments is usually correlated with the number of hours a parent spends with the child, so both will usually change at the same time.

Courts make decisions based on what's best for the children and always will. However, the court might make changes to visitation rights based on "changed circumstances." The parent who seeks to make changes to the document must demonstrate that their living situation has changed since the last agreement and the old child visitation rights aren't presently applicable. Few instances of changed circumstances are one of the parent's relocations, failure to comply with the specified schedule, a child's wish to spend time with one of the parents.

Visitation Drop Off

The visitation schedule plan should account for logistical details, like dropping off and means of transportation.

In most states, these concerns must be specifically resolved in the parenting agreement. Unless the parents are feuding, children are usually picked up and dropped off at their family home.

If the parents don't get along, it is probably better to choose a different spot for picking up the child. As the last case scenario, parents can use the police station's premises to pick up and drop off the child. The courts prefer parenting agreements where the two parents share the responsibility of transportation evenly.

There may be exceptions due to unexpected events, but in the best-case scenario, a divorced couple must agree to divide the transportation responsibilities fairly.

Visitation Rights for Unmarried Fathers

If the two parties find it impossible to agree on visitation and custody issues, one of them can ask to present their case in front of the court and comply with its judgment.

When deciding on family law matters, courts usually consider what would be the most beneficial for the children.

By default, courts aim to allow both parents to stay involved in the child's life. One of the progenitors can revoke the other's visitation rights entirely if the accuser can prove that child will be in danger while in the care of the other parent. If one parent can prove that their former spouse has a violent temper or drug addiction problems, the court might agree to such a request.

The courts usually acknowledge the visitation rights of unmarried fathers, but male parents rarely get the sole custody of the kids who the mother brought up. The only time when an unmarried father can get sole custody of the children is when the mom has demonstrated that she's unstable. After divorce, unmarried fathers often continue to be involved in the lives of their children.

Court has the right to change the child visitation or custody arrangements if there's a need for modifications. This might happen as a result of a request from both parents, or an appeal from one parent to adjust the terms. In some states, divorcees can make changes to child visitation arrangements on their own. The updated order will be easier to enforce if the court has modified it. Unmarried decisions also have the best chance to retain their visitation rights if they go to court for decision.

What Happens When the Custodial Parent Withholds or Will Not Reschedule Visitation Time?

Sometimes parents are unable to cooperate.

This usually happens because the children's legal guardian does not want to cooperate with the non-custodial parent to accommodate missed visitations. If the relationship is particularly hostile, the custodial parent might not allow the other parent to see children at all. In this situation, the non-custodial parent should make an appointment with a family law attorney and contest the issue in court to make sure their parental rights are upheld.

The custodial parent might use visitation rights as a negotiating tool, but the non-custodial parent might retaliate by refusing to pay child support payments. Both actions are against the law and shouldn't be used as retaliation or punishment. Parents must remember that squabbling with each other will not benefit anyone. The children might suffer emotional trauma as a result of their parents' squabbling. Courts hold the welfare of the children in the highest regard, so individuals who are suspected of toxic behavior will be punished.

If the custodial parent frequently refuses to uphold the other parent's visitation rights, besides forcing the custodial parent to comply with court rulings, the court system also has an additional mechanism to resolve the issue.

If a child's legal guardian always refuses the visitations of the other parent, the court can transfer the legal guardianship of the child to the non-custodial parent as a form of punishment.

Making Your Parenting and Visitation Schedule

Regular, residential, school schedule

This is the typical visitation schedule that allows both parents to spend time with their kids. It is sometimes referred to as the repeating cycle of custody and visitation.

The agreement that allows both parents to spend a lot of time with their kids is called a joint physical custody agreement, sometimes called shared custody.

A sole physical custody label denotes an agreement when the children live with their legal guardian. The other parent has the right to come over and see the child frequently.

50/50 Schedule

50/50 schedules denote the arrangement when the child spends a proportional amount of time with both former spouses.

60/40 Schedule

60/40 schedules divide the time spent with parents disproportionately. The children spend 60% of their time with one parent while spending the rest of the time with the other spouse. This allows both parents to stay close to their children.

70/30 Schedule

70/30 schedules divide the time spent with parents disproportionately. The children spend 70% of their time with one parent while spending the rest of the time with the other spouse. These arrangements allow the child to spend most of the time with one parent, while still keeping in touch with the other one.

80/20 Schedule

80/20 schedules describe a situation when one parent has sole custody and spends 80% of the time with the child, while the other parent visits and gets to interact with the child 20% of the time.

Summer break schedule

Some parents come up with a different schedule for summer. During the summer months, the child is free from school and has a lot of free time. Parents sometimes also make arrangements for other school breaks.

Usually, parents have to come up with a new schedule that exclusively applies to the summer months. Actually, it's up to the parents to decide when to start and end the implementation of a modified visitation plan.

Vacations

Each parent can select a specific time period for taking the child to tourism attractions. It's also possible to keep your options open. In this case, both parents are eligible for few days of vacation with the child. They just have to warn the other spouse that they're taking the child.

For instance, parents can agree to give each other the right to spend leisure time with children twice a year for about five days. They might agree to let each other spend leisure time with kids for up to two weeks.

Holiday and special occasion schedule

Parents can come up with a holiday schedule to determine which parent spends time with the children on certain vacation days.

The holiday schedule takes precedence over the usual schedule. If the legal guardian is supposed to look after the child on the weekend, but that weekend coincides with a holiday which the child is supposed to spend with the other parent, the holiday arrangement will take precedence.

Considerations When Making Your Parenting Time Schedule

Here are some factors to take into account when you're coming up with the plan for visitation schedule:

  • The parenting plan includes your visitation arrangement. The schedule must be detailed in legal terms.
  • Create a visual representation of your schedule to give the lawyers, mediators, and judges a better understanding of your calendar.
  • Design your schedule to follow the custody guidelines imposed by your state. Otherwise, the court might reject it.
  • Create the schedules based on the age of your kids.
  • Make an arrangement that allows your kid to enjoy childhood. Emotional support from both parents is important.
  • If the marriage produced numerous kids, you should design a split custody arrangement, which allows the parents to share the custody of different kids.
  • If one or both former spouses serve in the military, your schedule must have provision for unexpected events.
  • If parents reside in different states, determine which one has jurisdiction over your case and make sure to comply.
  • If parents live far apart, design an arrangement that involves spending more continual time with the child to reduce travel costs.
  • If you and your parent just decided to get divorced, make arrangements for a temporary solution before you reach an official agreement.
  • It is possible to change your agreement if you and your former spouse both consent to the adjustments. If there's a disagreement, you can only make changes by going to court.
  • You should add provisions and miscellaneous rules to ensure the visitation schedule works well in practice.

Situations Requiring an Attorney

The level of cooperation between the parents can significantly influence the design of visitation arrangements. If parents disagree on dividing rights and responsibilities, it will be necessary to hire an attorney. A legal advisor will represent your and your child's interests in court. Reach out to a child visitation lawyer to get a better understanding of the steps involved.