Visitation Rights: An Overview

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When a married couple who has children get a divorce, they will need to determine who will take care of the children for the majority of the time.  If they are unable to decide amongst themselves, a judge will typically decide for them.  If one parent is given full custody – meaning the child or children reside with them most of the time – the other parent is usually given some visitation rights.  This is an overview of child custody visitation rights.

Different Types of Visitation Rights

Joint Custody Visitation

When parents receive joint custody of the children, it is up to the parents to decide the visitation issues.  They will need to work out a schedule which allows the children to spend time with both parents separately

Reasonable Visitation

When the parents have decided on reasonable times and places for the children to visit one or both parents, it is called reasonable visitation.  This may occur when one parent has sole custody or the parents have joint custody of the child.  The schedule may change from day to day or week to week.

Fixed Visitation

When the court has determined a visitation schedule or the parents have agreed on a visitation schedule that stays consistent from one week to the next, it is called fixed visitation.

Supervised Visitation

If one parent has custody of the child or children and the other parent is considered dangerous or a threat to the child – this parent may receive supervised visitation rights.  In this case, the child will visit with the non-custodial parent in the presence of a third party.  The third party might be a therapist, counselor, police officer, guardian ad litem or someone else determined acceptable by the courts.

Non-Supervised Visitation

Should the non-custodial parent receive non-supervised visitation rights, no third party is needed.  The child can stay overnight with the non-custodial parent, visit him or her for holidays or other special times as agreed upon by the custodial parent.

How Visitation Rights are Determined

In cases where the divorced couples are amicable, they may come to a mutual decision about visitation rights.  If this happens, an order based on their agreements can be entered into the court.  However, in many cases, divorced couples are not in agreement about child visitation rights.  When this happens, the judge may decide visitation rights for the couple.

The judge will hear the testimonies of all parties involved and will review the case before deciding upon set visitation rights.  The decision may be influenced by many factors, including testimony from the child or children if they are of a certain age, criminal background of both parents, which parent has acted as the caregiver the majority of the time and much more.

Can Visitation Rights Be Changed?

Visitation rights can be changed by one or both parents revisiting the judge who issued the orders in the first place.  The reason for changes may be a change in the relationship, legal matters, therapy completed or other issues.  If a non-custodial parent is seeking more visitation privileges or a positive change – he or she may have to show reason to have the change approved.

Child visitation rights are important to both parents.  Assuming there is no legal reason that a parent shouldn’t be able to visit his or her child – it is important for the children to continue the relationships they have with their parents even after divorce.

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