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  • What is child visitation?

Child visitation is a process that allows separated or divorced couples to spend time with their children. A visitation schedule is usually prepared by the couple or by a judge in a court of law. The schedule should be designed to take the child’s education, holiday and vacation schedules into account. Both parents should have equal visitation time with their children whenever possible.

  • Why is child visitation necessary?

Child visitation is important for both parents and children. It gives the child consistency and allows them to spend time with both parents. Visitation helps parents maintain the bonds they established with their children. Children and parents can count on those schedules and look forward to spending time with one another.

  • How is child visitation determined?

Child visitation is decided by the parents or a judge. The best interests of the child will be taken into consideration. If the child is old enough to make their own decisions and preferences, that information will also be factored in. Current laws, as they are written, do not favor the father or mother.

The state of Maryland will take the child’s wishes into account once the child is 16 years of age or older. Children can also ask for a change of custody at that time. Multiple factors will be evaluated before a judge decides whether or not to grant their request.

  • Does child visitation have to be supervised?

Child visitation can be supervised or unsupervised. If one parent has a history of abuse, violence or neglect, the other partner may request that their visitation be supervised. The divorce lawyer should be made aware of those actions and concerns.

Monitored exchange is not the same as supervised visitation. Monitored exchange programs let one parent drop the child off at a service center and then go off to work, school or whatever they have planned for that day. The child will be picked up at that location by the other parent, who will spend time with them until it’s time to return them to that same center so that the custodial parent can take them home.

  • Where does child visitation happen?

Child visitation locations can vary from one case to the next. Unsupervised visitation may occur at a parent’s home, community center, friend or relative’s home or other location. Supervised visitation usually happens at a family service center, relative’s house or a different place specified by the court.

  • Do I need to pay for supervised visitation?

Depending on the service center, a fee may or may not be assessed. Certain centers provide services at no charge, while others may have small charges. Some service centers have an hourly fee that is paid by the parent who is visiting their child at the center. There could also be an intake charge that both parents will need to pay.

  • Can I ask for supervised visitation?

One or both parents can ask for supervised visitation if necessary. They may prefer to have visitation at a neutral location, or there may be concerns about one former spouse or the other. Valid reasoning must accompany such requests.

A parent cannot ask for supervised visitation just because they are worried that the other parent may allow their child to spend more time playing video games, watching TV or spending time with friends than doing their homework. There must be proof of significant issues, such as a partner’s addiction issues or any evidence or history of abuse or cruelty that was exhibited toward them or their children in the past.

  • Will visitation be granted?

Every request will be reviewed by a judge in a court of law. Any child visitation schedules that are part of a separation agreement must be provided to the judge. They will be examined to ensure that they are fair and in the best interests of the affected children.

Not all visitation requests are granted automatically. The judge could deny the request or make modifications to the child visitation schedule. They will respect each partner’s time as well as the school, vacation and holiday schedules of both partners and their children.

  • What happens if the other parent doesn’t show up?

If the child visitation arrangement is legally binding and approved by a judge, it can be much easier to prove any violations of the schedule. Failure to appear or drop off a child at designated dates and times could result in the non-offending parent filing for contempt.

Contempt proceedings are designed to ensure that the person found in violation adheres to the existing agreement. A judge will review evidence to determine if that person purposely disobeyed the agreement. If found guilty, the defendant could face prison time and/or a fine, based on the terms of the original agreement.

  • Can I change my child visitation schedule?

No child visitation schedule is set in stone. Changes are bound to happen due to fluctuations in a parent’s work or vacation schedule, the child’s school schedule, bad weather and other reasons. Both sides should communicate their intentions to adjust the schedule as needed.

The person requesting a change should make a modification request with the court. This adjustment should be in writing. The judge will examine the request to determine if it is in the child’s best interests before approving or denying the adjustment.

Child visitation can be complicated. It may take considerable time and effort to work out a schedule that both parents can agree on. If you have questions or need assistance in setting up a child visitation schedule, we can help. Contact us to set up a free consultation. Our trained professionals will listen and advise as needed. They can even represent you in court if you wish. Visitation will be an adjustment for parents and children. They may have to make sacrifices so that they can spend quality time together. Having a good schedule in place can make the pain of separation or divorce a bit more bearable.

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