The Basics of Visitation Rights: Answers for Parents Who Have Been Denied Child Custody

February 1, 2023

This is a photo of an adult holding a child's hands.

Visitation rights are an important part of being a parent, whether or not you have been granted full custody of your child. If you have been denied child custody, you may be wondering what your rights are when it comes to visiting your child. In this blog post, we'll cover the basics of visitation rights and answer some common questions for parents who have been denied child custody.

What are visitation rights?

Visitation rights are the rights a parent has to spend time with their child after a divorce or separation. In California, visitation rights, also known as supervised visitation rights, give non-custodial parents the chance to maintain a meaningful relationship with their children and to develop and strengthen their bond. There are two types of visitation rights that can be given in California: reasonable visitation and monitored visitation. Reasonable visitation allows the non-custodial parent to have scheduled visits with the child, which can either be in-person or virtual (such as via phone or video chat). Monitored visitation is when an adult third-party is present during the visit to ensure that the parent and child have a safe environment to interact. The third-party may be someone mutually agreed upon by both parents or court-appointed.

What are the different types of visitation schedules?

Visitation rights refer to a parent’s legal right to spend time with their children. Visitation rights can range from supervised visitation rights where a third party is present during the visit, to unsupervised visits. Generally, there are three main types of visitation schedules: standard, modified, and special visitation.

Standard visitation is the most common form of visitation in which parents have regular, alternating periods of custody. It usually involves both parents having equal time with the child on weekends and holidays as well as extended time during the summer months.

Modified visitation is used when a parent is deemed unfit to have standard visitation. This could be due to a criminal history, substance abuse issues, or mental health concerns. In this type of visitation schedule, the noncustodial parent has visitation rights but must adhere to specific conditions set by the court such as drug testing, mental health assessments, or supervised visitation rights.

Special visitation is a flexible arrangement that allows both parents to agree upon when and where they will meet to exchange the child. This type of visitation is typically used when one or both of the parents live too far apart to make a standard visitation schedule practical. Special visitation also allows for more flexibility if the parents' schedules change from week to week.

How are the visitation rights decided?

Visitation rights are decided by the courts when granting parental responsibility to both parties in a child custody dispute. The courts will consider the best interests of the child when deciding the types of visitation rights that should be granted. Generally, when parental responsibility is awarded, one parent is named as the primary custodial parent, while the other parent is granted access to the child through various types of visitation rights. These can include supervised visitation rights or unsupervised visitation rights, depending on the court's decision. In some cases, the court may decide that certain types of visitation rights are inappropriate and may be denied. However, in many cases, the courts will recognize both parents' right to maintain a relationship with their children and will create a visitation schedule that allows for regular contact between the non-custodial parent and their children.

What do judges look for in child custody cases California?

When deciding who should have custody of a child in California, the judge will look at the best interests of the child. This includes the relationship between each parent and the child, the mental and physical health of each parent, and the ability of each parent to provide a safe and secure home environment. Additionally, the judge may consider the preference of the child if they are of sufficient age and maturity to express an opinion.

In some cases, supervised visitation rights may be ordered by the judge. This means that a third-party, such as a social worker, must be present when the parent visits with their child. Types of visitation rights can also include unsupervised visitation rights, visitation rights for holidays or school breaks, and overnight visits. The judge will determine what type of visitation rights is best for the child.

How can I get visitation rights if I am denied child custody?

If you have been denied child custody, you may still be able to get visitation rights. It is important to understand the difference between a visitation demand letter and enforcing your visitation rights. A visitation demand letter is sent by one parent to another asking for reasonable visitation rights. 

The type of visitation rights you can get depends on what is in your best interest, as well as the best interest of your child. Depending on the situation, you may receive supervised visitation rights, which allows you to visit with your child while supervised by an appointed third-party. You may also receive unsupervised visitation rights, which allows you to visit with your child without supervision. In some cases, parents may be granted overnight visitation rights.

To enforce your visitation rights, you must go through the court system. You will need to file a petition with the court and provide evidence that shows why it would be in the best interest of your child to grant you visitation rights. The court will review the evidence and decide if it is in the best interest of your child for you to have visitation rights.

If the court grants you visitation rights, you will have to abide by any terms set forth in the order. This could include time limits, locations for visitation, and other rules. If you do not abide by these rules, you may be subject to penalties, including jail time. It is important to be aware of the court’s expectations before entering into a visitation agreement.

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This material is provided for educational purposes only. Providing this information does not establish an attorney/client relationship. None of the information contained in this newsletter should be acted upon without first consulting with an attorney. Should you have questions about the content of this newsletter, please arrange to discuss via a consultation.