Work With A Visitation Attorney Who Cares
When a family is together, both parents have unlimited access to their children and share responsibility for their well-being. However, in a divorce, parents must split time with their children according to the directives of a court visitation order. In this arrangement, an uncooperative parent can create a very frustrating situation that could escalate into conflict at the expense of the children.
While a judge’s visitation orders are obligatory, overzealous parents often find ways around them. Sometimes parents are willing to disobey orders in certain situations, but the visitation schedule is designed to be beneficial to the well-being and growth of the children, not for the convenience of the parents. Ignoring the judge’s orders for too long may be detrimental to the physical, emotional, psychological and academic needs of your children. In fact, refusing to obey a visitation order may result in a parental kidnapping charge.
At Bours & Lucero, LLC, we can help you avoid these situations by pushing for fair, court-enforced visitation rights. Partner Alicia R. Lucero is a Best Interest Attorney (BIA), meaning she was chosen by the court to make independent evaluations of what is in the best interests of children in high-conflict divorce and child custody cases. She will bring her expertise to your case to help ensure there is a clear visitation schedule that allows you to play an active role in your child’s life.
Visitation Rights Defined
The court will encourage divorced parents to work together to determine a reasonable schedule for sharing time with their children. Though it’s not required, you should request that the court make the schedule legally binding to ensure fairness and that both parties comply. The judge will hear the arguments from your lawyers and determine a final say based on the best interest of the children. In general, courts will usually take into account several questions, including:
- Before fighting for their visitation right, how long has the noncustodial parent waited?
- What are the living conditions of the noncustodial parent?
- In the past, did the noncustodial parent spend the time with the child?
- Has the child ever stayed overnight with a parent?
- Is there any history of abuse from the requesting parent?
- What is the geographical location of the noncustodial parent?
- Has the noncustodial parent paid child support?
- Is the noncustodial parent employed?
- Is the noncustodial parent remarried?
Every case is unique and may be affected by issues like the health and living conditions of each parent, work schedules and parenting style. A judge will weigh all of those factors against the parenting goals when creating a visitation schedule.
Who Can Receive Visitation Rights?
Typically, the biological parents are given the preference in visitation rights, but in cases of abuse or hardship, the judge may consider grandparents and other extended family members. Any family member may petition the court for visitation rights, though they should present a strong case for the best interest of the child’s well-being.
Child Visitation Schedule
The practical schedule of visitations will likely center around the child’s school and sports functions, holidays and the parents’ transportation ability. You should outline all these issues in a detailed and logical way in your written visitation agreement. Take the time to negotiate and plan out every calendar day and scenario before going before the judge. If you cannot agree on certain days, the court may provide a mediator to counsel you both through the decision-making process. If you choose not to show up for visits, you shouldn’t face any penalties. You can otherwise informally agree to changes in your visitation schedule as unforeseen situations arise, like if one parent gets sick. If changes become too frequent or significant, you should go to the court to make them official so they can become legally enforceable. In most cases, if one parent has full custody, they will have more significant influence on the outcome of the schedule.
Supervised Visitation And Monitored Exchanges
In certain situations, the courts may deem it appropriate a parent only interact with their child at a predetermined location under close state supervision. A judge may order this to protect the child from danger from the requesting parent, to prevent conflict between parents, or in unique tense circumstances. Usually, these interactions are at neutral locations, like a park or arcade. To further prevent conflict, the judge may order monitored exchanges, meaning drop-off and pick-up times are staggered such that parents do not have a chance to meet.
Fight To Secure Your Visitation Rights
As a child develops, it’s essential they have adequate attention from both mom and dad, despite the tension from divorce. At Bours & Lucero, LLC, we understand that every parent wants to give their best for their child. Unfortunately, divorcing parents often use children as tools for manipulation and bargaining chips to get their way. We are here to help you through the painful emotions and fight for the best interest of your child. We offer a consultation, no matter the situation. Contact us today: 240-428-0933.