Father Visitation Rights

Visitation rights are a myth. Neither parent is inherently entitled to visitation rights when going through a divorce. You only have visitation rights when they have been established by the court or determined in a parenting plan that is created by both parents and acknowledged in court.

In your divorce proceedings, it is important to be aware that visitation and custody are two separate matters (see Child Custody for Fathers). Legal custody grants you the ability to direct how your child is raised. This includes things such as the religion, education and healthcare of your child. Physical custody allows your child to live with you. Visitation, on the other hand, tends to define how your time with your kids is spent. A qualified divorce attorney with experience handling custody and visitation issues should be able to more thoroughly explain the differences between custody and visitation and advise you on your best course of action.

For example, if you are awarded full custody of your children, your wife may seek visitation rights. Or if you are granted primary custodial rights while the divorce is pending, your wife may also seek visitation rights. This is something you should talk about with your attorney and something that should be dictated by your wife’s ability and capability to care for your children while they are with her. If your wife has drug or alcohol addiction problems, you should make sure that visits are supervised. Likewise, if there is a history of physical, mental or sexual abuse, visitation should be closely monitored. There may even be a specific location that your wife must be in to visit with your children. In this way, the way your wife spends her time with your children is defined. This offers a number of protections to your children if your wife is unfit to watch them on her own.

When visitation rights are granted to your spouse, be sure that you have the terms of that visitation in writing. People and circumstances change over time and it is a good idea to have all of the details concerning visitation (who, when, where, or possible restrictions) in writing to avoid potential conflict in the future.

If visitation rights are established, it is important that you encourage your wife to arrive promptly for each visit and never miss a visit (see Missed Parent Visits are Hurtful). Missed visits with a parent can be extremely harmful to your child. If the mother of your children consistently misses scheduled visitations, be sure to document each missed visit and talk to your attorney about what can be done to protect your child.