A visitation order is a legal document that outlines child visitation rights of a non-custodial parent. The document often includes details of the days and times that visitation are allowed and the length of stays, as well as whether the visitations must be supervised. The order is also typically based on weekends, holidays, and other school breaks. They can also vary depending on whether or not both parents are remaining local or will be relocating to another area that would potentially involve extended travel. The visitation order is typically drawn up as part of a divorce proceeding and may later be modified as situations change.
The exact details of the visitation order can be decided in a number of ways. While many parents are able to agree on custody and visitation terms on their own, others may need court intervention, typically provided in the form of a mediator. In more extreme cases, particularly when an agreement cannot be reached between the two parents through mediation, the judge handling the custody case will determine the details of the visitation order on his own. Only in rare cases will a judge strip a non-custodial parent of all visitation rights, a ruling which is reserved for cases in which any contact with the child could be considered physically or emotionally harmful.
There are a number of situations that may require certain restrictions to be included on the visitation order. This may include anything from overnight stays being prohibited to a court-appointed third party being present during all visitations, commonly referred to as supervised visitations. These types of restrictions are often put in place to ensure the safety of the child while they are visiting with the other parent. The benefits of supervised or restricted visitations are that they both still allow the other parent to visit with the child even when mitigating circumstances prohibit traditional visitations.
Once the details of the visitation order have been finalized, it is considered a legally binding document. Failure by either parent to comply with the details of the order is a direct violation of the agreement and may be reported to the authorities. In cases with active custody or visitation disputes, contact with the non-custodial parent may be halted temporarily until the dispute has been resolved. Repeated violations of the agreement may result in both parents having to return to mediation in order to settle their dispute or create a modified visitation order that works better for both parties involved.