Guiding Principle- Children Have A Right To Visit Both Parents

It is assumed by almost every Court that it is in the best interests of any child to maintain a constructive relationship with both parents.    


                                           “ . . . .(A) child is almost always benefited by

                        having the maximum opportunity to develop

                        a close and loving relationship with both parents,

                        especially in situations where the parents

                        are separated or divorced.” 


Marital “Misconduct” Is Not Reason To Restrict Access

In the absence of extraordinary circumstances, a parent will not be denied the right of visitation, even though the parent has been guilty of “marital misconduct”. Visitation with the non-custodial parent must be as liberal as reasonably practicable, taking into account the need for stability in the children’s school and home schedules, the parents’ respective work schedules, and how far apart the two parents live from each other.

Source of Court’s Authority

The Court’s authority to act on behalf of minor children, and to protect their relationship to both of their parents, is based upon the court’s duty to serve in a “parens patriae” capacity. “Parens patriae” refers to the “principle that the state must care for those who cannot take care of themselves, such as minors.”

Right To Visit Is Not Absolute

The right of visitation is not an absolute right. A parent's right of access to his or her child will ordinarily be ordered by a Court. Only in exceptional cases will it be denied.  However, if it is clearly shown to be best for the welfare of the child, either parent may be denied the right of access to his or her own child.

Typical Visitation Arrangements?

The precise contours of visitation vary according to the situations of both parents and their children. There are many competing schools of thought. Historically, the non-custodial parent was with the children on alternate weekends and for one evening each week. There are many who still abide by this theory, particularly during the school year when a maximum of stability may be needed. As pressures to bring more equality into the parenting arrangements have increased, the traditional configurations for “visitation” have changed. Indeed, the word “visitation” has often been superseded in acceptability by the word “access”, because of its less possessive connotations. The mid-week “out to dinner” has at times become an overnight. “Weekends” may be expanded to include after school on Friday until Monday morning. Alternating periods of equal time are often suggested. There is no formula which fits all situations, and we make no attempt to hypothesize that one arrangement is any “better” than another. We simply want you to be aware that there are choices to be made.



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