Child Visitation Rights: Who Gets Them and Why

Posted on October 13, 2014 by

Who can get visitation rights to spend time with a minor child?

The Juvenile and Domestic Relations district court determines who is allowed to spend time with a minor child in a manner that is in the best interest of the growth and development of the child. In most cases, the court only considers the rights of the child’s mother and father when determining visitation rights. However, any person with a legitimate interest in the child’s welfare, such as grandparents, stepparents, or relatives, may be granted visitation rights. If a person’s parental rights have been terminated by a court order or they are a relative of a person whose parental rights have been terminated, they are not considered to have a legitimate interest in the child’s welfare.

What factors does the court consider in determination visitation rights?

The primary consideration of the court is the best interest of the child. In order to determine the best interests of the child, the court will consider the following:

1. The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child’s changing developmental needs;
2. The age and physical and mental condition of each parent;
3. The relationship existing between the child and each parent and each parent’s ability to assess and meet the needs of the child;
4. The needs of the child, including important relationships with siblings, peers and family members;
5. The role of each parent has played and will play in the future, in the upbringing of the children;
6. Each parent’s propensity to support the child’s relationship with the other parent;
7. The parent’s ability to maintain a close relationship with the child and to cooperate with the other parent;
8. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court determines that the child is able to make a reasonable choice;
9. Any history of family abuse; or
10. Any other factors that the court determines are necessary.

Can parents determine visitation rights without a court order?

In certain cases, parents may agree to visitation rights without a court order. The court may refer the parents to a mediator who will conduct a dispute resolution session at no cost to the parents. The session will be conducted following guidelines provided by the court.

Child visitation rights are a complicated issue that takes into consideration many factors that affect the health and well-being of a child. Courts take this issue seriously and will apply the above factors in order to decide what visitation arrangement is in the best interest of the child.

Categories: Articles, Family Law
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