Preparing for Visitation

The Basics

As you prepare to submit your custody and visitation orders to the court, remember that a well thought out parenting plan – created either in agreement with the party or on your own – can significantly streamline and facilitate the custody/visitation process.  Once you have determined what custody and visitation orders will work best for you and your children, the next step is to file the correct paperwork and begin the custody/visitation order process.

Asking for a Visitation Order

Child visitation orders can be as diverse and complex, depending on the needs and wishes of all parties involved.  In general, the courts will aim to craft a visitation schedule that is reasonable and equitable, allowing the noncustodial parent to sustain important parental bonds and foster the child-parent relationship.  Visitation orders will address regular visitation (weekends, summer vacation) and special circumstances including holidays, family events, and school events.  Visitation orders may also determine the parent’s participation in field trips, sporting events, and other extracurricular occurrences.

In cases where the child’s health or safety is at issue, the court may order supervised visitation.  In such instances, the noncustodial parent will be allowed access to the child only under very specific circumstance monitored by another party.  The other parent, another family member, or even a court appointed guardian may be ordered.  In extreme cases, the courts may determine that visitation is not appropriate, and no visitation orders will be granted.  In these extreme situations, visitation will be denied if there is clear evidence that the child’s immediate health and safety are endangered.

A parenting plan is always the best bet when it comes to requesting child custody and visitation orders. The best parenting plan is one that prioritizes your child’s interests and wellbeing, while also accounting for evolving needs and future expectations.  You should explore developing a parenting plan, either alone or in cooperation with the other parent.  A parenting plan can map out a course of action that will allow you and the children of the relationship to better cope with the separation.  In some cases, mediation can help parents quickly develop a mutually agreed upon parenting plan which can ease both parties and children during subsequent court proceedings.

When attempting to work out a parenting schedule, aim for cooperation and calm.  Try to remove any feelings of animosity or defensiveness when communicating with the other parent, and try to keep an open mind.  While you may not be able to agree on an ideal parenting plan, if you keep the lines of communication open you will have a better chance of coming to a decision that is acceptable to both parents while also helping the child cope with separated parents.

If you and the other parent cannot come to an agreement regarding child custody and visitation, the judge may direct you to mediation.  Family courts often provide special services designed to facilitate an arrangement between parents who have had difficulty independently deciding on custody and visitation orders.  In certain instances, the judge may decide that an independent custody evaluation is needed, and some courts even allow a parent to request an evaluation.  In particularly contentious situations, the judge may even appoint independent legal representation for the children in order to ensure that the child’s best interests are being represented.

Responding to a Visitation Order

If you are not the moving party in a divorce or paternity action, then you will most likely receive the initial Petition and request for orders from the other party via service by mail or in person.  It can be upsetting and nerve-wracking to receive any official court documents, even when you know, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling anxious or upset.  Even when you know to expect it, getting served with divorce or paternity paperwork can be jarring, and it is understandable that you will feel unsure and anxious about how to proceed.  Here at Law For All, we have decades of experience helping our clients respond to family court paperwork.  Our helpful and knowledgeable staff can quickly and easily help you fill out all your paperwork so that you can leave your worries behind and focus on getting the best outcome possible for you and your children.

Here at Law For All, we understand that decisions involving your children are fraught with anxiety and concern.  By supplying you with all the tools you need to navigate the family court system, Law For All can take the guesswork out family court actions, and help you to clearly and efficiently present your case to the family courts.  Family law matters can be stressful and draining, let Law For All remove some of the burden with our easy family law document preparation.

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