Visitation rights are one element of a parenting plan that parents who divorce will have to present to the court as part of a legal separation or divorce. If the parents don’t or can’t agree, a judge will make a decision based on the best interest of the child or children involved. The parenting plan can assign sole custody of the child(ren) or shared / joint custody. In either case visitation rights and privileges will be specified to avoid confusion.
Unless it can be shown that visitation or contact with a parent would be detrimental to the interest of the child, a court will usually grant reasonable visitation rights. In making this decision the court recognizes that regular contact with both parents is generally a positive factor and a stabilizing force in a child’s life following a divorce or separation.
Conditions on visitation rights may be ordered by the court if the judge feels the child may be in any danger. This can include a bar on visitation for one parent who may present a threat to the child’s safety or welfare. They may also order that any visitation be supervised so that the child is fully protected. In some cases grandparents and stepparents as well as partners in domestic partnerships may also be entitled to request visitation rights.