What are Visitation Rights?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Many different mandates exist within family law to guarantee the rights of families. Visitation rights are a type of permission to allow parents to visit their children when they do not live in the same house with them. Visitation rights can also be granted to other relatives, such as grandparents.

Visitation rights may be granted to grandparents.
Visitation rights may be granted to grandparents.

Visitation rights are most commonly implemented within a divorce or custody legal action. When one parent or guardian is provided with custodial rights, he or she will be responsible for the child or children in question's full-time living arrangements. The remaining parent or relatives may be granted visitation rights through a court ruling to allow visits with the child or children.

Visitation rights may be granted to the noncustodial parent.
Visitation rights may be granted to the noncustodial parent.

During the decision-making process, courts typically encourage children to speak on their own behalf. The wishes of children regarding the guardian or guardians they wish to live with, as well as regarding relatives they wish to visit with, are usually considered before a ruling is made. The older and more mature the children are, the more consideration they are given during custody hearings.

When visitation rights are granted, the court may issue a schedule of visits.
When visitation rights are granted, the court may issue a schedule of visits.

When visitation rights are granted, the court may issue a schedule for visits. If all parties involved prove to be cooperative with the decision for visitation, the schedule may be left up to them to create and fulfill together instead. The schedule is expected to include dates and times that are reasonable for both parties, as well as in the best interest of the child or children.

In some cases, a parent or other person seeking visitation may be denied visitation rights. If the person is considered to be a danger to the child, or if parental contact with the person seems outside the child's best interest, rights may be withheld. Some cases during which this can happen may involve alcohol or drug abuse, physical abuse, or other harmful actions or lifestyles taken by the person seeking visitation rights.

Supervised visitation may be granted for parents or relatives who may not be considered completely safe when left with a child alone. These cases typically involve past alcohol or drug abuse or domestic violence. A counselor or other trained professional usually supervises these visits. If the parent or relative proves to be violent or exhibits any behavior that could put the child in jeopardy, visitation rights may be lost.

If parents are separated by long distances, a virtual visitation may be an option. Considered a low-cost alternative to traveling, virtual visitation involves using the Internet to connect with family via live web camera. Virtual visitation may also include web chats, instant messaging, or e-mail sessions.

If the mother is deemed to be mentally unstable, she may be granted visitation while the father may have sole legal custody of their child.
If the mother is deemed to be mentally unstable, she may be granted visitation while the father may have sole legal custody of their child.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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