When you are involved in a child custody case, you need to understand your or your co-parent’s potential visitation rights. If you or your co-parent is granted visitation, it will be important to follow the visitation rules and respect your child’s right to see both parents.
What Is Visitation?
Parental rights are very strong, and courts are reluctant to prevent parents from seeing their children. If a parent does not have custody of a child (or if he or she has limited custody), the court can arrange visitation rights for that parent. Visitation involves in-person visits or electronic communications with the child.
When deciding the specifics of visitation, the court must act in the best interest of the child. Generally, the court has broad ability to determine the timing of each visit, the length, the location, and the type of visit (supervised, unsupervised, electronic). For example, the court might decide on a visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent where the child stays at the parent’s home every other weekend. The court might also order more flexible visitations, such as alternating holidays with each parent and/or long visits over the summer break from school. Additionally, visitation can take into account work schedules and the general availability of each parent. If parents are on good terms, they can suggest an appropriate visitation schedule that the court may adopt.
It is becoming more common for visitation schedules to include electronic communications. For example, the court may determine that electronic communications, such as video calls, should be granted to the noncustodial parent in order to supplement visitation and promote communication between the parent and child. Similar to in-person visitation, the court has the ability to set the terms of the visitation. This can include the method of communication, requiring parents to share the cost, and requiring them to share access information such as passwords with each other.
What Is Supervised Visitation?
Sometimes, the court needs to set stricter limitations on visitation. This may happen when one parent has sole legal and physical custody of the child. Sole custody may be awarded because the other parent has issues with physical, emotional, or substance abuse. Alternatively, the noncustodial parent may not be involved in the child’s life (for example, if he or she is in prison or lives out of state).
Due to the recognition of strong parental rights, the court still can allow visitation. Often, this will take the form of supervised visitation. “Supervised” means that a family member will need to be present during the entire visitation session with the noncustodial parent. Alternatively, if a family member is not available, an agency representative can attend the supervised visits. The judge may set other limitations on these supervised visits, such as location and timing.
Violation of Visitation Orders
After the court sets a visitation schedule, you may find that your coparent has violated the schedule. He or she may be spending more time with the child than the schedule allows. While it may be understandable that your coparent wants to spend more time with your child, it leaves you with less time. Alternatively, your coparent may fail to show up for scheduled visitation time. This leaves you in the lurch, perhaps needing to find last-minute child care.
In either situation, you need to speak to a family law attorney about your options. You may be able to take legal action to enforce the visitation schedule. Before you go to court, hire a local child custody lawyer. Divorce lawyers and family law lawyers often handle child custody matters. An experienced lawyer can explain your rights and help you prepare the paperwork you need. Make sure you go through the proper channels to enforce the visitation schedule by getting legal help. Child custody is too important to risk violating a court order or making a procedural error.
Let New Direction Family Law Assist You
If you need help with a visitation issue, the team at New Direction Family Law is available today to answer your questions. With decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys are knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate professionals. We will help you understand your legal rights and work hard toward your best outcome. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 646-6561 to schedule a consultation, or visit us at our website.