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What is “visitation” when you’re talking about child custody?

Any child custody dispute can be tough, but when sole custody is being discussed, it can be especially difficult for parents from an emotional perspective. When sole custody is at issue, whether it is physical or legal custody, that often means that one parent doesn’t think that the other parent should have such a prominent, equal place in the child’s life. And, at best, “visitation” rights may be the only option for a parent who is ruled against in this type of child custody dispute.

So, what is “visitation” when you’re talking about child custody? Well, in essence, it is the right to see and visit with the child. For the most part, unless a court expressly states in an order that a parent does not have a right to see and visit with the child, the visitation right exists. There is usually a very strong presumption that a parent should at least have some type of visitation rights, even if sole legal and physical custody are granted to the other parent.

However, there are situations when even visitation rights can be denied completely, or severely restricted. If there are credible or proven allegations of child abuse, for example, visitation rights may be curtailed. Or, if a parent is alleged to have drug or alcohol abuse issues, that parent may have more restricted rights to see and visit with the child, potentially while addressing the issues through treatment.

Know your rights

Child custody disputes can get complicated in a hurry if the parents aren’t in agreement about how custody should be handled. Be sure to know your rights as you approach this serious and delicate legal issue.