Published by Pam Hawley in Divorce
Divorce or the termination of a relationship is always a painful process. This is particularly true when children are involved. In cases where one parent is awarded sole custody of a child or children after a divorce or breakup, child visitation rights may be determined by mutual agreement of both parties. If an agreement cannot be reached, visitation rights are established by the court system as part of the divorce decree.
Child visitation rights in the US vary depending on circumstances. In some cases, the non-custodial parent may be awarded visitation rights on weekends or holidays. In more controversial cases, supervision by a guardian, social worker or other third party may be required during visitation. In supervised situations, visitation may occur in the home of the custodial parent or at another pre-determined location.
In many cases, a detailed court-ordered visitation arrangement is not necessary. The details of child visitation rights in the US are sometimes left to the parents if the court determines that they can work together to reach mutually acceptable arrangements. However, when it appears that the parents will be unable to work out arrangements, the court may intervene in the creation of a detailed schedule that outlines holiday, weekend and vacation schedules.
Others beyond non-custodial parents are often involved in child visitation issues. For example, every state in the US has amended visitation statutes to include grandparents’ rights, according to The Legal Dictionary. The specifics and limitations of these rights vary from state to state and are impacted by the individual situation.
Child visitation rights in the US can change over time. When either the custodial or non-custodial parent feels that circumstances have changed they may bring the case back to court for review and amendment. Usually, this occurs if one parent feels the other is not being fair in honoring the visitation agreement. The parent with visitation rights may have concerns because the custodial parent is not making the child available for visits, or the custodial parent may have similar issues with the child not being returned home at agreed-upon times. In these cases new evidence must be submitted for the court to re-evaluate the situation.
Non-custodial parents sometimes find themselves in situations where they feel visitation rights are being used against them out of resentment or desire for revenge. Some non-custodial parents have withheld child support payments because they believe their visitation rights are not being honored. However, visitation and child support are considered separate issues in the eyes of the law and such cases usually end up back in court. There are many support and advocacy groups for non-custodial parents, including The American Coalition of Fathers and Children and the Alliance For Non-Custodial Parents Rights .
When appropriate, the wishes of the child are factored into the determination of child visitation rights in the US. Courts consider a child’s age and maturity level in factoring their wishes into visitation decisions. Ultimately, the best interest of the child or children is considered most important by the court in making all arrangements.