Common questions about child visitation rights

Divorce is always a hard situation – and it’s even more difficult when children are involved. When going through a divorce, you may be worried about how much contact you will be allowed with your children, especially if you do not have an amicable relationship with your child or your ex-spouse. Here are some answers to questions you might have.

Am I guaranteed visitation rights with my child?

The answer is that courts normally grant visitation rights unless there is a very good reason not to. The court’s goal is for the child to benefit from a relationship with both parents. In other words, if you don’t have a history of child abuse, neglect or domestic violence, then it is likely that you would receive visitation rights. When the court determines custody, they will also enter a visitation order for the non-custodial parent. In some cases, a court may order supervised visitation, depending on the circumstances and what is in the child’s best interests.

Can I enforce my rights?

If your ex-spouse interferes with court ordered visitation, then you can file a violation petition with the court. This is called a “Petition for Enforcement of a Visitation Order.” You will be required to give details regarding how the custodial parent was interfering and how often it occurred. For example, if your child is ill and unable to see you every time you have scheduled visitation it might be interference, but one or two times may not be. It will be very dependent on the facts and the circumstances. The court may impose sanctions or a fine on your ex-spouse if interference has been established.

Is visitation connected to child support?

No, they are completely separate issues. If you are being denied visitation, you can’t stop child support – although you can go to a court and ask to suspend payments. The court is likely to take into account the level of financial hardship and whether suspending child support would ultimately punish the child. On the other side, if you haven’t paid child support or are unable to do so, the custodial parent can’t prevent you from seeing your child. They can file a violation petition against you, however.

If I am a stepparent, do I still have visitation rights?

A stepparent may have visitation rights. If the children are not biologically yours you can still apply for visitation as an interested third-party. Grandparents, however, can generally only request visitation (or custody) if a parent is deceased or there are extraordinary circumstances. The best interests of the child are paramount – meaning if you have been a major part of the child’s life, you are more likely to be granted visitation rights.

How often will I get to see my child?

The court usually orders “reasonable” visitation – meaning you and your ex-spouse should work it out with both of your schedules. It is important for parents to be flexible and communicate frequently in order to come up with a precise visitation schedule. The court may set reasonable time and places, but the parents are expected to compromise on the details. If this is not possible, or you suspect working with your ex-spouse maybe be difficult, a fixed schedule for visitation can be requested.

If your marriage is ending at you have questions about your visitation rights, speak to an experienced family law attorney at Most & Schneid, P.C. We will answer your questions, alleviate your concerns and help protect your interests throughout the divorce process.