When determining the amount of time a parent, guardian or other family member can spend with a child, most family courts defer to the “best interests of the child.” Judges are not permitted to base their decisions based on the gender of either party, and must instead consider the health, safety and welfare of the child.
Judges are also required to decide if the child would benefit from frequent and continuing contact with one or both parents. If you do not have a court order in place, then you will need to get one to enforce your visitation rights and time-share with your child.
Unfortunately, when a family unit is dissolved or separated, custody and visitation can get complicated and divisive. While each parent or family member is looking out for the child, many times it’s difficult for parties to come to an agreement. When it comes to visitation in particular, it can be difficult to exercise your rights, even if they have been granted to you by a court order.
As part of a divorce proceeding or a paternity action, the Family Court can order custody and visitation. In some states, grandparents may also pursue custody and/or visitation as part of a guardianship action.
Even if you are entitled to visitation, exercising your rights as a parent or grandparent can be easier said than done. Additionally, the courts usually view visitation rights as a privilege – one that can be revoked should either party not adhere to previously agreed upon actions or responsibilities. In most cases visitation and can be granted or cancelled depending on the current court order and extenuating circumstances.
As with child custody, courts will often defer to amicable agreements between the parties, so whenever possible it’s important to cultivate a cooperative relationship whenever possible.