How Do the Courts Determine Visitation?
If one parent is granted custody of children, either by agreement or by court order, the other parent is automatically entitled to reasonable visitation rights. What is reasonable will vary from family to family, but the court does have the power to place conditions that the visiting parent must satisfy before they are permitted to visit the children. These conditions would likely be related to the reasons that the visiting parent was not granted custody of the children in the first place. For example, visitation could be conditioned to seeking treatment for a substance abuse problem.
As of 2018, non-parent relatives including grandparents, step-parents, and step-siblings may also petition the court asking for visitation rights. The court will grant the relative visitation if they have an ongoing, substantial relationship with a child and if granting visitation rights to the relative would be in the best interest of the child. Similar to the determinations of a child’s residential schedule after a divorce, the court makes this determination based on evidence of several factors, like the nature of the relationship and who the child lives with.
If a parent objects to someone being granted visitation, the court will weigh that fact very heavily. In that case, the person seeking visitation will need to show more evidence than normal in order to gain visitation rights over a parent’s objections.
Waiting for the court to determine visitation rights is not something you should do alone. Call the experienced child custody lawyers at Crouse Erickson for the family advocates you deserve.