Visitation (also known as physical custody) generally refers to the time that is spent with one’s child, whereas legal custody refers to who has the authority to make major decisions affecting the child. During or after a divorce process parents often wrangle with issues or disagreements regarding visitation and decision making authority.
Pursuing visitation regarding one or more of your children can be a daunting and complex process, especially if the other parent is difficult to work with or outright wishes to deny your right to be in your child’s life. In these cases, it is essential to work with a Fairfield County visitation lawyer at SGCBBW. A compassionate family law attorney could work aggressively on your behalf to demonstrate to a court that regular visitation is in the best interests of your child, potentially preserving your precious relationship with your kid.
It could be helpful for someone who wants to better understand what visitation is to learn more about the various types of custody that are recognized under Connecticut law.
This is a custody arrangement in which a child lives predominantly with one parent. The other parent may be (and likely is) afforded opportunities for visitation, including overnights.
In this situation, a child alternates living at the home of either parent, and parents share time with the child(ren) although may not necessarily split time with them precisely 50/50. Parents should feel reassured that shared physical custody is usually what family courts try to arrange in most cases and/or where most cases settle cooperatively.
Raising a child involves many important decisions, such as where they will attend school, when and how they will seek medical care, and where (if at all) they will attend church, among many others. Joint legal custody gives both parents the right to make these decisions in collaboration with one another. Most divorces and/or cases involving custody of children result in parenting sharing joint legal custody meaning that the parents both have a legal right to be involved in decision making as to major and important issues for their child(ren) and if they cannot agree, then neither of them has “final say” but instead they must submit the issue to the court for determination.
Sole legal custody is when only one parent has the authority to make major decisions regarding a child’s education, health, religious instruction, and similar major issues.
It is important to understand that joint legal custody is possible even if a child lives primarily or exclusively with one parent, and, generally, legal decision making is not dependent upon a particular parenting schedule.
Visitation rights (also referred to as “Parenting Time”) becomes an issue when parents disagree over a schedule for when their child(ren) will spend time with each parent. If the mother and father cannot create an amenable visitation schedule on their own, the parent seeking visitation may need to hire a Fairfield County visitation attorney at SGCBBW and attempt to obtain a visitation order from the court and assert their rights as a parent. Visitation rights can be broadly and generally categorized into three main types:
The most common type of parenting time. Here, parents will be able to spend time with the child(ren) without third-party supervision. Generally, almost all parents who are divorced with children or who have parenting plans exercise unsupervised visitation. This is the case regardless of whether the parents enjoy roughly equal time with their child(ren) or if the children spend more time with one of the parents.
In some cases where one parent is considered unfit, potentially detrimental to the child, or otherwise unable to meet the child’s crucial needs or appropriately parent the child(ren), supervised visitation could be necessary. The supervising party may stop the visitation at any point if the child’s safety or welfare is in question and/or ensures that the child is parented appropriately and safely during the parenting time. It is important to note that supervised visitation is a fairly extreme measure and applies in extreme circumstances only. Moreover, generally supervised visitation is implemented for a period of time during which the court system hopes or intends for the supervised parent to repair whatever deficit warranted the supervision in the first place. Upon satisfactory improvement ad adherence to proper conduct, etc, the supervision would likely be discontinued.
Though extremely rare, a parent, despite wanting contact with their child(ren) may be prohibited from seeing their child entirely if it is determined that no contact is in the child’s best interests. This can be necessary in cases of past physical abuse or the failure of supervised visitation arrangement.
In most cases in Fairfield County, the two parents may simply agree on visitation rights and arrangements. A very limited number of cases involve custody and parenting disputes. Oftentimes, visitation is determined by the parents creating a schedule that works as well as possible for them and for the child, disrupting their daily routines as little as possible. However, if the parents cannot agree, visitation will likely be determined by the court after a trial.
Visitation determinations may be contested if one side is unhappy with the determination in a judge’s order after trial. That parent may file an appeal stating that the judge abused their discretion in their order, the determination should be thrown out, and that the parties should start over with a new judge. In cases like these, it is especially important for parents to seek help from a qualified visitation lawyer to ensure that their rights are protected.
Visitation rights and child custody do not necessarily but often do have a direct relationship. Parents may be equal legal custodians but the practicalities of the physical schedule might not allow for equal time. There are parents who do not have any ability to make final decisions for their child, but they still have parenting time, generally as a non-custodial parent. Parents with alcohol or substance abuse issues may still see their kids but their parenting time may be supervised or monitored.
Most cases entail parents having joint or shared legal custody, meaning they are both equal participants in the decision-making process for the child though they may not have equal time with the child; if one parent is working and the other is not, the non-working parent may have more time during the week with the child than the other parent, and they equally split the weekends.
Alternatively, if legal custody is disproportionate, the parent who does not have legal custody may be in that position because they struggle with personal issues such as substance abuse, psychological issues, a demonstrated inability to co-parent effectively, or an inability to meet the child’s needs. When a parent has deficits of whatever nature, they might have less time with the child if that would be in the child’s best interest until they remediate those issues. However, if a parent is facing a potential reduction in their visitation time or parental rights, they should speak with a compassionate family attorney right away to protect their relationship with their child.
Ideally, parents who are divorcing will be able to work out, often with the assistance of Counsel, satisfactory legal decision making (Legal Custody), and parenting schedule/visitation (Physical Custody) which are in the Best Interests of their child(ren). However, disagreements over children can become highly charged emotional issues where parents differ over what is best for their child(ren). You may need to fight for the right to spend time with your beloved child. Contact a Fairfield County visitation lawyer at SGCBBW today to speak with a local legal professional about what options might be available to you to preserve your family.