How Do I Get Visitation Rights?
by Unbundled Legal Help
In a divorce proceeding, several types of visitation are available. A judge will consider the situation of the parents, and with the children’s best interest at heart, recommend what they consider feasible.
A family court judge will generally begin by deciding the ideal custody arrangement. Then, if the circumstances permit, the judge can determine whether the other parent receives visitation rights.
Visitation rights issues can be frustrating and stressful. A family law attorney can provide guidance and advice if you’re seeking visitation rights. An unbundled lawyer can assist with your case while also keeping costs low. Contact us today, and we’ll connect you with such a lawyer in your area.
Different Types of Child Custody
Upon considering the facts of the case, a family law judge can decide what type of child custody is best.
Physical custody provides the parent the right and obligation to take care of the wellbeing of a child on a daily basis. Physical custody also gives the parent the right to have the child live with them.
The parent with physical custody is the custodial parent, while the other is the non-custodial parent. Because the non-custodial parent is not given ample opportunity to spend time with their child, they may be able to get visitation rights.
Legal custody assumes the parent will have a legal responsibility for the child and be making major decisions for the child, such as health, education, and religious upbringing.
Judges often grant only one parent legal custody. In the best case scenario, both parents share decision-making responsibility for their child.
Sole custody of a child means one parent is responsible for caring for the child and making the impactful decisions affecting the child’s life.
Sole custody can mean sole physical custody or sole legal custody, but in many cases, it means both.
The non-custodial parent in a sole custody arrangement may have the right to visitation with their child if the judge deems it appropriate.
When parents have joint custody, they share responsibility for their child. Joint custody implies both parents should keep open communication and stay abreast of all issues involving the child.
Frequently, judges will allow parents to share both physical and legal custody, meaning the child spends time living with each parent and both parents make decisions regarding the child. While this is common, it’s not always the most appropriate joint custody scenario.
Joint custody may also mean joint legal custody but not physical custody, alternatively, joint physical custody but not legal custody.
Judges often agree joint custody is best for the child, but it boils down to the parents’ relationship, their ability to co-parent, and the needs of the child.
How Does Child Custody Affect Visitation Rights?
Parents must adhere to and comply with visitation rights granted by the court.
What Is Visitation?
Visitation is the right a family court gives the non-custodial parent to visit with their children. A judge can help decide what visitation schedule suits the parents' and child’s wants and needs.
In a situation where the court believes a child would not be safe from harm while visiting with the non-custodial parent, the judge may order supervised visitation.
Supervised visitation involves a strict schedule and requires another competent adult to be present during the visit. The supervisor can be a family member or social worker, and the supervised visit occurs at a previously agreed-upon location, including someone’s home or a supervised visitation center.
Unsupervised visitation is the most common type of visitation awarded in a custody order. Unsupervised visitation means a parent is free to spend time alone with the child, including overnights and weekends, and plan activities with the child.
How Can I Request Visitation Rights through Family Court?
To get visitation rights through family court, you will need to follow certain steps. Here’s the procedure you must follow:
- Filing a petition: If you’re seeking visitation rights during a divorce, your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage will always address your children. You can then request the court grant you visitation rights. If you’d like to pursue visitation rights absent a divorce, you will still need to petition the family court and state why you’re seeking visitation rights and why it’s in the child’s best interest.
- Attending court: The family court will set a court date for you to present your case. The judge may not render a decision right away, as they may decide you must complete certain steps first, including attending parenting classes. The matter may require multiple court visits.
- Receiving a final order: After a judge has taken into consideration all the petitions and recommendations, they will grant a final order with extensive detail regarding custody and visitation rights.
Can My Child’s Other Parent and I Come Up with Our Own Visitation Schedule?
If you and your child’s other parent can come up with a visitation schedule that suits everyone’s needs and goals, you may submit your schedule to the court for approval. The court then has the discretion to determine whether the parenting plan is adequate for all parties. If so, the judge can approve the schedule.
While it is not as common for parents to create and submit their own visitation schedule, it is allowed and encouraged.
What Is a Visitation Schedule?
A visitation schedule is a regular schedule when each parent has parenting time with the child. It is frequently called a joint physical custody arrangement or shared custody. A visitation schedule will allow both parents to share time with the child.
Visitation schedules are not usually “one size fits all.” Here are some examples of visitation schedules:
- Every other weekend with an overnight visit
- One weekly overnight visit every week
- Extended visits, often weeks at a time, such as summer vacation
- Some holidays and birthdays
The ideal visitation schedule will rely on the custody arrangement, parents’ desires, and the court’s recommendations.
Is It Ever Possible to Modify a Visitation Schedule?
Yes, if needed, you can request to modify your visitation schedule with your child.
There are many cases when a judge may decide it is appropriate to change a visitation schedule. Here are some examples:
- Physical relocation
- Change of schedule
- Refusal to follow the current visitation schedule
- Change in child’s needs
If you wish to change your visitation schedule, you can request the court reevaluate the situation.
Are Grandparents Ever Entitled to Visitation?
All 50 states recognize the rights of grandparents to have visitation with their grandchildren. Nonetheless, grandparents typically only petition the court for visitation in extreme circumstances.
If you’re a grandparent seeking time with your grandchild, but their parent(s) are trying to limit your time with them, your options depend on your state’s laws. In some states, grandparents are not allowed to request court-ordered visitation absent some special circumstance, such as the grandchild’s parent is deceased. In other states, grandparents are allowed to petition the court for visitation when they can prove visits would be in the best interest of the child.
Because grandparents’ rights are secondary to those of parents, it may be challenging to seek enforceable visitation.
Do I Need a Lawyer To Help Get Visitation with My Children?
You are not required to have legal representation when seeking visitation with your children. You can file your petition and appear before the court pro se, meaning you are representing yourself.
However, when you hire a family law attorney, it makes the process much easier to navigate, as they are intimately familiar with the rules and laws governing these issues. Your lawyer can tackle the most important tasks regarding your request for visitation:
- Providing legal advice
- Drafting and filing documents with the court
- Crafting the ideal legal strategy
- Representing you in court
Visitation cases are serious, especially when they can affect your ability to spend time with your children. If you’re facing issues with visitation and custody, discuss your case with a knowledgeable family law attorney.
Consider Hiring an Unbundled Lawyer
If you require legal help for your visitation case, a family law attorney will be your best ally, but hiring a lawyer can be costly.
Unbundled Legal Help believes everyone should have access to high quality legal representation without the exorbitant costs. We help match our clients with skilled unbundled lawyers that suit their particular needs.
An unbundled lawyer has the same qualifications as any other but offers different services. Unlike a traditional family law attorney that will charge you a pricey retainer and hourly fees in exchange for full representation, an unbundled lawyer will charge only for the services they provide. If you feel confident handling your case on your own but want the guidance of a lawyer to assist with the most critical parts of your case, an unbundled lawyer may be right for you.
Unbundled Legal Help can connect you today with an unbundled family law attorney in your area. Contact us to get started.