November 06, 2015
Divorces are full of contested issues between what are often times very angry parties, and no issues are usually as hotly contested as those involving child custody. Not all custody disputes are resolved amicably, or settled by the parties’ entering into a joint parenting agreement or the court issuing a joint parenting order. There are a variety of circumstances in which a court may decide to award sole legal and residential custody to one parent.
Although courts do prefer to grant joint legal custody whenever it is feasible, there are cases when one parent is granted sole custody. The granting of sole custody may be sole legal custody, sole physical (residential) custody, or both. In such cases, where one parent is given sole or primary physical custody, the non-custodial parent is entitled to visitation rights, sometimes referred to as parenting time. Although the word visitation implies a short period of time, that is not always the case, and the noncustodial parent is sometimes awarded weekly multiple day visitations by the court.
On the other hand, it is often reasonable for the court to grossly curtail and limit visitation with the non-custodial parent, or to only allow supervised visitation. The standard the court applies in determining custody disputes is the “best interest of the child” standard, so if the court performs an analysis under this standard and finds that visitation with the noncustodial parent will endanger the child’s physical health, mental health, emotional health, or moral health, then the noncustodial parent may not be entitled to any visitation. However, it is very rare that a parent is denied even supervised visitation with their children. In that regard, the court may also place other requirements on visitation, including supervision by a third party, and in extreme situations, can even prohibit the noncustodial parent from having any contact with the child or children involved.
In certain circumstances, the court will prohibit a noncustodial parent from having any visitation rights. For example, no parent convicted of any offense involving an illegal sex act against a victim under the age of 18 is entitled to any visitation rights while incarcerated. Even while on parole, probation, conditional discharge, periodic imprisonment, or mandatory supervised release for that offense, the noncustodial parent may not have visitation rights. Visitation rights will continue to be denied until the noncustodial parent successfully completes a treatment program approved by the court.
Visitation rights may also be denied to a parent convicted of first degree murder of the parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling of the child who is the subject of the order, unless the court decides it is in the best interest of the child to rule otherwise. Given that the best interest of the child is the standard, there are many circumstances in which a court can limit or prohibit visitation rights with a child, including cases of abuse, neglect, and drug abuse by the noncustodial parent.
If you are have concerns regarding visitation rights of the noncustodial parent with your child, you need an aggressive child custody attorney who will protect your child’s rights. Reach out to the attorneys at the Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group for a consultation today.