The Best Interests of the Child
When settling child visitation disputes, the courts usually consider what is in the best interest of the child. This refers to a child’s physical, developmental, and emotional welfare. This standard is most applicable in cases where the parents’ contention over child visitation is because they are more concerned about their own selfish needs. The court applies this principle to refocus attention on the needs of the child.
Many statutes on child visitation mention the “best interests of the child” and provide a list of the factors that the court needs to consider when using this standard. Some of these factors include the financial support that each parent contributes, each parent’s potential to provide a stable, nurturing, and safe home environment, and each parent’s emotional connection with the child.
What is Reasonable Visitation?
If the judge ruling over your divorce or separation determines that you or your ex-spouse has a right to reasonable visitation, this means that you and your partner should come up with a parental visitation time.
Generally, the parent with custodial rights has more power over the terms of reasonable visitation. The custodial parent is not legally obligated to agree to a proposed visitation schedule. However, the courts frown upon a custodial parent who is unreasonable just to be malicious towards their ex-spouse.
What is A Fixed Visitation?
A fixed visitation applies when parents are still in conflict or unwilling to co-operate on visitation schedules. In a fixed visitation schedule, the judge orders the non-custodial parent the times when they could spend time with their child. Additionally, courts may issue fixed visitation schedules to provide children with some form of stability in an upsetting and confusing phase of their lives.
Modification of Child Visitation
The living situation of divorced or separated parents’ changes overtime and this makes it necessary to modify a child visitation order. When a modification is necessary, either parent can file a request. Although the court’s decision is largely influenced by the best interest of the child, it will also rely on the proof of the changed circumstances of the parents, when modifying a visitation order. This means that, the parent who is filing the motion needs to prove that since the visitation order was made, circumstances have changed rendering the current schedule difficult to uphold. Some of the examples of changed circumstances include requests by the child to have less or more time with a parent, inability of one parent to follow the current schedule, and relocation of either parent.
How a Lawyer Can Help With Child Visitation
In cases where parents agree on a child visitation schedule, the essence of a lawyer may be to draft an agreement and present it to court for the judge’s signature. However, when the parents of the child are in conflict over the visitation schedule, an attorney’s work is cut out for them.
First of all, the lawyer will ensure that they represent their client’s best interest in court. This may include proposing a visitation schedule that is convenient for their client. An attorney will also come in handy when requesting for a modification of the order. In such cases, a lawyer’s main role will be to prove a change in circumstances and how a modification will be in the best interest of the child and both parents.
If you are a non-custodial parent seeking visitation, or a custodial parent who wants a visitation order to be modified, you need to consult a lawyer to determine your best course of action. The court will always grant visitation and modify orders based on the best interest of the child and prove of a change in circumstances respectively.