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What are visitation rights?

Written BY NABEELA TAREEN

Visitation Rights are an important part of child-custody proceedings. It refers to those rights
which are granted to the non-custodial parent to visit and meet their children by the order of the
court. In a course of separation or divorce, the matter in relation to the custody (physical and legal) of
an issue (child) involved, is either decided by the parties themselves or by the Court. Where the
decision is left to the discretion of the courts, many factors are considered before deciding which
parties will be awarded the custody of the child and which party will be allowed visitation rights. The
child’s preference, mental and physical conditions of the parents, lifestyle, age, and sex of the child
are among the important factors which the court reflects upon before awarding custody. Thus, those
parents who are not awarded physical custody (physical location of where the child will be) of the
children are granted with certain visitation rights. These rights include the right to spend time with the
children, either under a supervised or unsupervised arrangement.

While deliberating on the custody proceedings, the welfare of the child is a matter of paramount
concern. Divorces are an exhausting process, which could result in a traumatizing experience for the
parties, especially the children involved. The children are forced to witness the separation of their
parents and disintegration of their household. Therefore, in order to prevent any further mental and
emotional discontent and to make sure that the child’s welfare is upheld, co-parenting is preferred.
Both parents are allowed to be a part of their children’s life, thereby making visitation rights very
important. The visitation rights have a positive effect on the child as active participation of parents in
the parenting process help children thrive more[1].

Generally, the scope of the visitation extends to the non-custodial biological parent. Some
countries’ guidelines for custody pertain to traditional gender-specific roles, granting the mother
custody as the presumed caretaker. However, most countries have advanced to a gender-neutral
approach. The scope of the rights now extends to grandparents, other non-parent entities such as
foster parents, caregivers, etc. The U.S. Supreme Court did not per se declare the non-parent
visitation as unconstitutional, thereby rendering some scope of extension of the visitation rights to
others.[​2] ​Furthermore, parental rights cannot be reduced because of a disability of a parent[3].​ It is the
child’s welfare and interest which is considered a priority while making such a decision. The
Washington Rev. Code -26.10.160(3) permits “[a]ny person” to make such petition for the visitation
rights to the children “at any time” and also grant authority to the state superior courts to award such
rights wherever such rights are serving the best interest of the child[4]. (We provide you with this
information of cases and statutes, so that you have the ability to do research of your own, but
remember JustLaw attorneys can do all that for you under a JUSTLAW membership!)

The length and kind of visitation rights granted is often determined by the age of the child. A
parental agreement of visitation rights may generally include allowing the non-custodial parent to
spend time with their child on specific weekends, overnight, pick and drop offs from specified
locations, and on given times as agreed upon. The visitation rights will also determine whether the
exchange between the child and parent will be supervised or not, as well as time allowed during
special occasions, holidays etc.

As a general rule, visitation rights are permitted. However, the court may also deny or restrict
the visitation rights for the interest of the child. Therefore, in a child custody case, it is imperative to
appoint a good attorney to represent the interest of the non-custodial parent.

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law.

1. ​https://www.nationalfamilysolution.com/why-visitation-rights-important/​ ( last visited 7:36 AM {IST}, dated 9/12/2020)
2. Troxel et vir v. Granville (2000) No 99-138, (argued: January 12,2000 Decided: June 5,2000)
3. Re. Marriage of Carney, 598 P.2d 36 (Cal. 1979)
4. 4https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/530/57.html​ ( last visited 7:58 AM{IST}, dated 09/12/2020)