Child Visitation Legal Definition
In granting custody or access rights, the court primarily considers the well-being and safety of the children. A non-custodial parent is granted access to a child unless the court determines that access is not in the best interests of the children. If the court grants access to the non-custodial parent, the court has the right to visit the children according to a schedule agreed by the parents or according to a schedule ordered by the court. Psychiatrists describe this situation as parental alienation syndrome (“PAS”) and find that therapy in various forms is often needed to repair the relationship between a child and the parent who is subject to alienation tactics. Controversial cases of custody or visitation where parents cannot get along are complicated. Talk to a lawyer to understand how the law affects you and your rights. Click here for help finding a lawyer. Joint custody does not mean that children have to spend exactly half the time with each parent. Usually, children spend a little more time with 1 parent than the other because it is too difficult to divide the time exactly in half. If 1 parent has the children more than half the time, that parent is sometimes called the “primary custodian parent.” The judge may also appoint lawyers for children in custody cases.
The judge will also decide who will pay the children`s legal fees. If a significant change in behaviour or circumstances occurs in which the parents are involved, the court may make permanent changes to access rights. One of the parties must provide the court with clear evidence of the change in behaviour or circumstances. This evidence usually needs to be completely new to the court, as the issues dealt with in previous proceedings are generally not grounds for change. Common reasons for permanent changes include persistent non-compliance with visiting schedules, repeated failure to return the child at the specified time, instruction of the child in immoral or illegal acts, or conviction of the parents for a crime. If you disagree, the judge will send you for mediation and a mediator from Family Court Services or another court-related program will help you. If you still disagree, you and the other parent will meet with the judge. In general, the judge will then decide on your on-call and visiting schedule. Learn more about mediation of custody cases. Most supervised access orders are temporary because the non-custodial parent has been given specific instructions on what needs to be done to restore regular access. This may include addiction counseling or rehabilitation, anger management, regular drug testing, and other specific remedies. A non-custodial parent may also be granted a single supervised visit until they find a suitable home or living environment in which the children are safe.
In a divorce in which one of the parents receives sole custody of the child, the non-custodial parent usually receives access rights in the divorce decree. Access rights may be denied if evidence is presented to prove that it is in the best interests of the child not to see the parent. This usually only happens if it has been proven that the parent is an excessive alcohol user, an illegal or physically or verbally abusive drug user. With the large number of divorced parents in the United States, grandparents have successfully lobbied for laws that give them the right to visit their grandchildren. However, the U.S. Supreme Court raised concerns about these laws, declaring such a law unconstitutional in 2000. Most states believe that the current family is not subject to forced intrusion by grandparents if both parents are fit and purpose. A majority of States also consider that any adoption preempts visits by biological grandparents and that grandparents generally do not have the right to intervene in an adoption process involving their grandchild. Visits (also known as “time-sharing”) are the plan of how parents will share time with the children.
A parent who has the children less than half the time has a visit with the children. The order of visits varies depending on the well-being of the children, the situation of the parents and other factors. In general, the visitation can be: In a divorce or custody action, the permission that the court grants to a non-custodial parent to visit their child or children. Custody may also refer to access rights granted to grandparents. In addition to custody orders, the judge may also issue child support orders. Keep in mind that a child support order is separate from custody and visitation, so you can`t refuse to let the other parent see the children simply because they don`t pay the court-ordered child support. And you can`t refuse to pay child support just because the other parent won`t let you see your children. But child benefits and custody are linked because the time each parent spends with the children affects the amount of child support. Click here to learn more about child benefits. In a case where the court finds that a child would not be protected from harm when visiting a non-custodial parent, supervised access may be ordered. The supervised visit is according to a specific schedule, but requires the presence of another competent adult throughout the visit. Only those who are authorized to supervise such visits are generally specified in the custody and visitation order and may be a neutral family member or friend, or the court may order that supervised visits take place in an agency that provides such services.
For example, Mark was visited by his young children, but after completing a detox program, he moved to a halfway house in a crime-ridden neighborhood. Mark will likely need to have a supervised visit to an agency until he (1) moves into a home in a safe environment and (2) passes weekly drug tests for at least six months. Visitation is the most specific term. If the visiting schedule indicates that you will see your child every other weekend, both parents must follow the schedule. Do not leave your visiting schedule without the consent of the child`s other parent. In deciding what is best for a child, the court will consider the following: The law states that judges must give custody based on what is in the “best interests of the child.” An explicit prohibition of visits must exist in the decree denying the visitation rights of parents, since access rights derive from the fact of parenthood. While this strong presumption exists in favour of access rights, the courts may restrict the visitation of custodial parents. If a party convinces the court that access would be in the best interests of the child, the court has the power to deny access. A child`s grandparents may have the right, under state family law, to file an original application for access for a minor child in any lawsuit in which the court has a custody issue. Thus, in divorce proceedings where custody of the children is contested, any grandparent of the child or children may file an initial application for access for the child before that court.
The term parental alienation refers to a situation where one of the parents negatively affects a child`s thoughts or feelings towards the other parent. This can happen when one parent makes a child believe that the other parent is responsible for the divorce or that the other parent is a bad person. Children who are exposed to negative attitudes towards one parent often begin to express an aversion to the other parent or refuse to have contact with that parent. Parental alienation has such a severe impact on the parent-child relationship that the law sees it as a reason to remove the child from primary custody of the alienating parent. Like other aspects of family law, states control most custody laws, so it`s important to review your state-specific laws to get a complete understanding of the visitation laws that apply to you.