What are my Visitation Rights as a Non-Custodial Parent?
When a parent is not granted physical custody of a child, they are sometimes referred to as a ‘non-custodial parent’ and are usually entitled to some form of visitation. There are many degrees and types of visitation, or “parenting time,” and it is usually best for the parents to decide on a visitation schedule together. When they cannot, a judge will decide on the best visitation plan and schedule for the child.
Understanding Unsupervised and Supervised Visitation or Parenting Time
The most common form of parenting time is unsupervised, wherein a child can stay with the non-custodial parent for a predetermined amount of time without the requirement that someone else be present, such as weekends, several weeknights, or holidays. This is preferable as it feels the most normal for the child and provides natural quality time with the parent.
If the parent is allowed parenting time but it is determined that they pose some kind of threat to the child or otherwise cannot be trusted alone with them, supervised visitation will be ordered. This contact between the parent and child is overseen by another adult, either one chosen by the parents or appointed by the court, such as a social worker. Supervised visitation can take place at the parent’s house or a neutral location approved by the court. It is also possible to have virtual visitation via an internet video service.
If a non-custodial parent breaks the visitation terms set forth by the court, they risk having their visitation privileges restricted, or losing them altogether. Similarly, a custodial parent cannot deny visitation to the other parent once it has been agreed on without first getting a court order, or they can face penalties as well.
Can I be Denied Visitation Rights With my Child?
A non-custodial parent may be denied visitation rights if a court decides it is not in the child’s best interest to have contact with that parent. This could happen if the parent has a history of domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness, or if they no longer have any contact with the child. In these cases, they can sometimes work to have those rights restored at a later time by following a plan from the court, which might include parenting classes or other constructive actions like drug or alcohol rehabilitation, medical treatment, or therapy.
The parent who has had their visitation rights restricted or revoked can always petition the court to have those rights restored, but they must be able to prove to the court that they will be able to effectively care for the child without any concern for harm to the child.