California courts want both parents of a child to be involved with that child’s life, even if only one parent of the child has legal and/or physical custody over the child. That said, visitation will not be approved and can even be terminated when it would be detrimental to the best interests of the child, such as when the child’s safety or health is endangered.
Making sure that you either are granted the visitation rights you deserve – or in making sure a child is protected from a dangerous parent through the visitation process – are among the most important legal issues you may ever face, and require a strong showing of evidence and legal arguments to the courts.
Who Can Obtain Visitation in California
Both biological parents of a child are allowed to seek visitation of their child, whether they have ever been married to each or not. Visitation is generally granted to a non-custodial parent when one parent has been given full physical custody. A right to visitation may end, however, when a person’s parental rights have been terminated, such as through an adoption.
Other adults may also seek visitation with a child over whom they do not have custody if they can show an important relationship with the child. This could include grandparents or step-parents of the child.
Notably, visitation rights apply to minor children 18 or younger. Adult children are for the most part not subject to visitation orders.
When Visitation Will Be Awarded By California Courts
For a biological parent, the courts will generally be in favor of awarding visitation, unless it can be shown that the visitation would be detrimental to the best interests of the child. Courts will look at a number of factors related to the children’s interests – including the health, safety, emotional needs, and security – when deciding whether to award visitation. Thus, one parent’s history of domestic violence, drug/alcohol use, or carelessness around the child which puts the child in danger could weigh against the awarding of visitation.
Courts can also take these issues into concern when crafting the terms of visitation that will be ordered. Courts can award unsupervised visitation or supervised visitation (meaning a neutral third party will be present) and can limit the time allowed (e.g. 2 hours a week) or geographic scope of the visitation (e.g. only at the other parent’s house).
Each Parents Rights During Visitation
Each parent must allow the other parent their full rights under the terms of the custody order. That means the custodial parent must allow the other parent to have his or her time with the child as spelled out in the order. This also means that the non-custodial parent with visitation must not overstep the bounds of the orders, such as by taking the child to an inappropriate location or keeping the child for too long.
Non-custodial parents must also remember that having visitation also generally means they do not have the right to make important decisions on the child’s behalf during that time which contradict the custody order, e.g. making medical decisions for the child.
When You are Denied Visitation
If you do not have a visitation order – or another parent is refusing to honor the terms of your visitation order – our attorneys will work with you to either obtain a fair and proper visitation order or to compel a family court to take action against the other parent for violating your rights under an existing order.
When Visitation is Bad for the Child
If another parent is seeking visitation and you believe it is detrimental to the child’s interests, or if you would like to change an existing order for the same reason, our attorneys can work with you to defeat a request for visitation or end an existing order. We can also help you seek a domestic restraining order if necessary.
Modifying a Custody Order
Finally, a custody arrangement can be changed if there are significant changes of circumstance since it was first ordered that justify a modification. For example if the other parent has not done a proper job of providing for the children, you might ask to modify the custody arrangement to give you shared or sole custody. Our attorneys can work with you on this as well as an alternative to visitation.
Legal Guidance in Your California Visitation Matter
To schedule a consultation regarding your situation and any questions you have about visitation in California, contact one of the family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, APLC today.