Visitation rights are a straightforward yet important aspect of the law. These rights pertain to the visitation schedules and arrangements agreed upon by the custodial and non-custodial parent. If they cannot agree, visitation schedules will be put into effect by the court. These circumstances most commonly occur following a divorce.
Once one parent is awarded custody, the other will be awarded visitation rights. The only time this is not possible is if the non-custodial parent is deemed irresponsible or a negative influence for the child. This can pertain to drug and alcohol abuse, as well as physical and verbal abuse. Evidence must be submitted in order for a non-custodial parent's visitation rights to be revoked. Learn more about the relationship of child support to visitation.
In some cases, the custodial and non-custodial parent will mutually agree on a visitation schedule. This is only possible if these parties can cooperate without incident. If cooperation is not a possibility, the court will determine a specific schedule. This will include frequency of visits, detailed pickup and return times, as well as holiday visitation schedules. If the court is involved, they will consider the wishes of the child, but only if that child is capable of displaying a certain sense of maturity. The child's age will also be a factor. That said, the child's best interests will outweigh any wishes made evident by any party. The courts will also be aware of undue influence, which pertains to a custodial parent influencing a child's decision.
The visitation rights of grandparents are a cloudier subject and have been debated for years. Their visitation rights will vary by state.