In family law, visitation generally refers to the time a noncustodial parent spends with his or her children. Child custody arrangements often address issues related to legal custody and physical custody, and each of these elements can be shared with the other parent or not. Biological parents can seek custody and visitation rights of their children, and a noncustodial parent may may seek to act on his or her visitation rights at any time.
When child custody and visitation is disputed, the court evaluates what is in the best interests of the children. Child visitation presumes that interaction with both parents is in the best interests of the children, which is not always the case. The court will reconsider this presumption if one or the other parents of the child establishes that contact with the other parent will harm the child.
If possible, parents can arrive at custody and visitation arrangements together through a parenting agreement. If they are unable to do so, the court will determine child custody and visitation. A parenting agreement, or parenting plan, can settle many important issues, such as custody of the child, specifics related to visitation, which parent will make certain decisions for the child or if the parents will share decision-making responsibilities, and how the parenting agreement will be modified, if necessary.
Changes to a parenting plan may be sought if certain situations arise. The family law process seeks to accommodate different situations and help families in different circumstances arrive at child custody and visitation arrangements that are in the best interests of the child and benefit the family. This is why it can be helpful to understand the family law process concerning child custody, and why it can be crucial to have the assistance of skilled attorney.
Source: FindLaw, “Child Visitation, Child Custody and Unmarried Fathers,” accessed on Jan. 4, 2016