Child Custody 101: Understanding Visitation

Must I follow the the visitation schedule?
The most important thing for you to understand about visitation is that you must comply with the visitation schedule. A child custody visitation schedule, also called a parenting schedule or parenting plan, is a legally binding agreement that both parents must honor. If you don’t want to honor the visitation schedule for any reason, you must return to court to modify the agreement. There are exceptions if you feel you child’s life is in danger, but, in those circumstances, you could only temporarily stop visitation. You still need to go to court to permanently change the visitation order. If the court determines that you denied visitation without cause, you could face legal consequences.

Do I have to force my child to go?
Legally, both you and your child are required to comply with a judge’s custody and visitation order. If your child is simply mad at your ex or doesn’t like a stepparent, that doesn’t constitute grounds to violate the visitation order. If, on the other hand, the child has good reasons for not wanting to go, or you can determine that the visits are detrimental to the child’s interests and well-being, you may be able to go back to court and ask for a modification to the custody agreement. However, you must be able to demonstrate that you have good reasons to modify the custody agreement and change visitation.

What can I Do to Make Sure My Child’s Needs aren’t Being Neglected?

Anything can be a contentious issue between parents who share legal custody of a child. It’s not uncommon for a child to take a certain medication with one parent, but the other parent may not give the child the medication. This is particularly common with ADHD medication and the like. When you share legal custody with your ex, both of you have a right to make decisions about your child’s medical care. Your ex may be within his or her rights to not give your child medicine. However, if you feel that your child’s needs are being neglected, you can take your ex to court to seek a court order compelling compliance.

If you do get a court order compelling compliance, and the other party still doesn’t give your child medication, you can seek contempt proceedings or restrictions on future visitation. This may result in a change in the visitation schedule so you can give the child the medication yourself, or may result in supervised visitation to ensure your child’s needs are being met. However, this is a multi-step legal process, and it’s most successful when you have good representation from an experienced family law attorney.

Do grandparents have any legal rights to visitation?
A court may grant visitation rights to grandparents under a few circumstances:

  • if one of the child’s parents is deceased.
  • if the visitation is in the best interest of the child.
  • if the child and grandparents share a bond.
  • if the visitation does not interfere with the custodial time of a biological parent.

However, in most cases, grandparents don’t have legal visitation rights. A grandparent who is being kept from a child who wants to obtain visitation rights must initiate a court proceeding to legally obtain enforceable visitation rights.

If you have other visitation-related questions, or need further clarification on any of these common questions, contact an experienced family law attorney. Visitation is a legally enforceable right with have legal consequences, so it’s important to understand visitation rights and comply with the legal requirements.

What To Do Next:
Experiencing a family law issue can be overwhelming and stressful. Knowledgeable family attorneys do much more than represent clients, they understand how choices made in the legal process can drastically affect life afterwards.

Sandra F. Banks offers clients a No Hassle Family Law Strategy Session to make sure every client gets guidance on how to achieve a stable, secure and happy future.

What’s more, if I’m not the right attorney for the case, you have my commitment that I’ll point you in the right direction. Just call my office at 510-336-2369 to schedule.