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Understanding Custody and Visitation

Understanding Custody and Visitation

Understanding Custody and Visitation

People often consider custody and visitation as the same thing, but they are two very different situations. Custody is a broader term that refers to either physical or legal custody, while visitation refers to the time that is actually spent with the children.

Legal custody defines who has the power in the decision-making process for a child. For example, a parent needs to choose churches, values, schools, and health care treatments when raising a child. Legal custody can be granted to one parent or can be split between parents.

Physical custody involves the physical possession of the child or the parent with whom the child is living. Courts can also grant physical custody solely to one parent or split it between the two.

Joint custody can take different forms and generally will not involve an even split of time between parents with the children. The children often live with one parent during the week and the other parent on weekends and holidays. The custody agreement can provide specific details on splitting the time between the two parental figures.

When one parent has sole custody of a child, visitation typically refers to the parenting time given to the other parent. Visitation often requires a visitation schedule, which sets specific dates, locations, and times when that parent is allowed to see the child. Following a visitation schedule is vitally important. Never change or dissipate your visitation schedule without consent from the child's other parent.

In almost every divorce case, parents can continue a relationship with their children after the divorce has ended. Maintaining a continued relationship is also possible if a  court has denied a parent the opportunity to have some level of physical custody of their son and daughter. When making a physical custody ruling, judges are trusted to ensure that they meet the children's best interests. And in some cases, it is healthier for a child to primarily live with one parent instead of spending time between both.

Parents who are denied physical custody rights are generally granted some level of visitation rights. In cases such as this, the parents themselves may be allowed to mutually create a parenting plan that meets their needs and the needs of the children involved. In other cases, the judge can create the visitation schedule on behalf of the children when the parents cannot do so amicably. The non-custodial parent is always encouraged to spend as much time as possible with their children. Otherwise, they may risk having their parenting time reduced or even eliminated.

Parents who are unable to be with their children physically are often able to obtain virtual visitation rights. These rights allow for the parent to have video chats with their children, exchange emails, or communicate with them through instant messaging apps or social media.

If the court is under the impression that a parent could be a danger to a child, that parent may be only be granted supervised visitation rights to ensure the child’s safety and wellbeing. As suggested in the name, someone, often a third party like a social worker or therapist, will accompany a child during these visits with their mother or father.

It is possible to have many different combinations of physical and legal custody and many different visitation schedules. If you are in the process of negotiating these issues, be sure to have a family law practice in Orlando to represent you. The advice of an attorney may be able to help a parent maintain a relationship with their child after a divorce. A parent can often achieve this by convincing the judge that the individual can provide a stable and safe environment for the child. In addition, people who want expanded visitation or custody rights can often demonstrate their fitness to be active parents by attending parenting classes and following any court rules closely. Sometimes, it may also help to move to a safer neighborhood or get a better job to support the child healthily.

If your custody arrangements and visitation schedule are already in place, follow them. Failing to follow court orders can result in dire consequences. If you want to change your current child custody arrangements, contact an attorney to discuss requesting a child custody modification. The advice and expertise of an experienced attorney can be crucial in keeping custody orders fair and manageable for parents and children through all steps of the custody determination process. In addition, having someone with valuable experience representing you can help alleviate stress and support you when the uncertainty of whether you will be allowed in your child's life makes the situation much more manageable. Frank Family Law is ready to help at their family law practice in Orlando when you are prepared to be represented by a firm with valued experience and legal expertise.