Visitation

Visitation or parenting time allows a parent who does not live with the child the ability the see the child on a consistent and regular basis.  Courts usually order reasonable visitation to the non-custodial parent.  When you and the other parent live near one another, and you have a reasonably friendly post-divorce or post-separation relationship, you can agree on a visitation schedule that is in the best interest of the child and works with your schedules. By working to create a workable visitation schedule, you can avoid having the court decide a reasonable visitation schedule for you.

If the court decides visitation, it will create a visitation schedule based on the best interest of the child.  Typically, a child of school age usually will have visits with a non-custodial parent every other weekend.  Based on the age of the child and other factors, these visits may or may not be overnight visits.  In addition, the non-custodial parent typically has an overnight or dinner visit with the child at least one day per week.  The parties usually alternate school holidays.  Finally, in the summer months when the child is not in school, the non-custodial parent may have extended visits of a week or more with the child.

However, in certain situations, the court may award more or less visitation or parenting time.  For instance, if there is a great distance between the custodial and non-custodial parent’s home, a weekday visit may not be practical.  The court may use some or all of the factors in the best interest standard to limit visitation rights.  This could happen if there have been issues of domestic violence, or the living arrangements are unsafe for the child, or for any other valid reason.  The limits on visitation could include:

  • Supervised visits. If the court is concerned that you are a danger to your child or otherwise will act improperly around the child, you will not be allowed to be alone with your child, and the court will appoint a supervisor to be with you during the visitation.
  • Therapeutic supervised visits. If the court believes your parenting skills are lacking or if there is some other reason for concern, the court can appoint a mental health professional to supervise your visitation to monitor and help you improve your parenting skills.
  • Neutral place of exchange. If the court believes that the transfer of your child from you to the other parent might be emotionally or physically dangerous for the child, the court can order you to make the transfer in a designated safe location, such as a police station, school, library, or mall.
  • Monitored transfer. If the court believes that the transfer of your child from you to the other parent might be emotionally or physically dangerous, the court can order you to make the transfer in the presence of a neutral third person.
  • Denial of visitation. In very extreme cases, where the court believes that you are a danger to your child, the court may deny visitation altogether.

Legal Editor: Angela Barker, January 2015

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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