Apart from the couple, the one who has to bear the direct consequences of a marital dispute is undoubtedly the child. Even if the married couple arrives at a mutual consensus regarding divorce, the welfare of the child should be their utmost priority. Similar to child custody, the separated partners can seek to plan visitation arrangements voluntarily. However, in case the willingness of either of the parents to visit the child is frustrated by the other parent, then he/she can approach the court for getting the judge’s sanction for visitation rights.
Who gets the visitation rights?
In cases of marital dispute or divorce, one of the parents is awarded physical custody of the child, while the other one is usually awarded visitation rights. It is important to note here that Child visitation rights are actually a privilege. The divorced parent does not get the visitation rights right away. Besides, even if the child visitation rights are not granted to the non-custodial parent, then also he may be ordered to offer financial support for the child. Thus, only two parties who are in immediate proximity to the child are granted visitation rights by the Court:
- The child’s grandparents
- The non-custodial parent, i.e. biological parent
The process of determining the child visitation schedule:
Ensuring child visitation rights can turn out to be a formidable task for the non-custodial parent. In the event of any disagreement between the parties regarding the visitation schedule, the court will play a vital role as a mediator. The Court will also give considerable importance to the child’s wishes, if his/her age is appropriate, while reviewing issues related to child custody and visitation. The decision regarding the type and length of visitation is arrived at by assessing the age of the child.
If the custodial parent feels that the child’s requirements are not properly looked after by the non-custodial parents during visits, then they may choose to disapprove the same. Issues related to child visitation crop up owing to the enmity between the disputing partners. The child may be permitted to stay with the non-custodial parent only during the time of visitation.
Who decides the visitation terms?
In a majority of the states, the parents are allowed to arrive at their own parenting agreement. This makes room for a reasonable visitation schedule without any scope of further conflict. The parents may even take the help of a neutral third party mediator to expedite the confirmation of visitation schedule. The court intervenes in the matter only when the parents find it difficult to reach a consensus on their own. Child visitation, being a matter of great concern, demands the mutual co-operation of both parents. To ensure that the Court pays heed to your point of view, it is advisable to seek the aid of a lawyer in the matter.
Visitation Rights for a Non-Custodial Parent:
- The visitation rights are granted to the non-custodial parent by means of an order issued by the court of law handling matters related to child custody.
- To ensure the welfare of the child, it is essential that the court makes sure that the child has frequent and sustained contact with both the parents.
- On occasions of holidays and vacations, it is vital that the non-custodial parent be given equal opportunity to spend some quality time with the child.
- During the visits, the care and safety of the child is the sole responsibility of the non-custodial parent.
Important points to remember regarding Visitation Rights:
- The non-custodial parent should obtain an order from the Court that provides direction is legally binding for both the custodial and the non-custodial parent with visitation rights. The said order should give a clear idea as to when and how the non-custodial parent can pay a visit to his child.
- In India, child visitation and child support are considered distinct from each other. However, it may be noted here that in case the non-custodial parent is unable to economically support the child due to some or the other reason, the visitation rights cannot be taken away from him. If the custodial parent refuses to allow the non-custodial parent to gain access to visiting the child on grounds of his ability to provide economic support, he may raise his voice.
- In case the custodial parent chooses to relocate within India or abroad, a mutual understanding between the custodial and the non-custodial parents to work towards fulfilling the child’s requirement of love is necessary and expected. The non-custodial parent can seek legal help if the custodial parent refuses to understand the same.
Thus, to ensure proper access to visitation rights during an on-going marital dispute, it is advisable to keep track of the aforementioned points to gain access to the child and maintain a loving and a caring relationship with the child.