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Types of Visitation Plans

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Visitation rights are based on a plan that establishes how and when a parent (or in some cases, a third-party) can visit a child. Ideally, visitation rights are agreed upon by both parents before they ever appear before a judge. However, there are many times when parents cannot reach an agreement. In these cases, parents can ask a court to enter a ruling establishing the parameters of the agreement.

The presiding judge will have the final say in who will be given custody and visitation, but will usually uphold the parenting plan that both parents agree on. In extreme cases, no visitation rights may be allowed by the court. If any contact with the child proves to be emotionally or physically harmful, it may be in the best interest of the child to not have any visitation with the parent. Like custody agreements, a visitation plan can be established at any time and later modified if there is a change in circumstances.

Our San Bernardino family lawyers are dedicated to providing caring representation to families who are going through a child custody dispute or divorce. The custody process is not only a difficult time for the couple involved, but for the children as well. With 40 years of combined experience, we can capably help you navigate this challenging time.

Visitation Rights for Non-Custodial Parents

By definition, if you have less than half of the time with your children, you have visitation rights. When a parent doesn’t have any custodial rights, the court is required to create a reasonable visitation schedule for them. However, visitation plans that have been agreed upon by both parties will likely be approved by the court so long as the plan is not detrimental to the child or contrary to the child’s best interests.

It is beneficial to both the children and the parents to have a detailed plan for visitation. This will help avoid conflicts regarding schedules. Sometimes, supervised visitation is required by the court, which means another adult may have to be present in order to protect the safety of the child or children.

The Best Interests of the Child

In all custodial or visitation plans, the child’s best interests always come first. There are several factors the court will evaluate in determining what visitation plan is best for the child.

These factors are quite lengthy and can include the following:

  • The health, safety, and welfare of the child
  • Any history of abuse by one parent or any other adult seeking custody against the following:
    1. Any child to whom he or she is related to by blood or affinity (persons related by marriage) or with whom he or she has had a caretaking relationship, no matter how temporary
    2. The other parent
  • A parent, current spouse, or cohabitant, of the parent or person seeking custody, or a person with whom the parent or person seeking custody has a dating or engagement relationship

Of course, this list is merely a sample of things a court may use in making its determinations, there is nothing that prevents the court from evaluating other relevant issues related to the child’s welfare.

Creating the Visitation Plan

Parents can create a visitation plan without going to court and getting a court order as long as they agree upon the terms. However, even when visitation is agreed upon, it may be in the parents’ and the child’s best interest to go ahead and get a court order. Any agreed upon plan is likely to be approved by the court, so long as it is in the best interest of the child. However, informal plans are likely to be un-enforceable if one party fails to live up to their end of the bargain. Having a court order can help prevent any future problems. In cases where an agreement can’t be reached, a court order becomes necessary.

Mandatory Mediation in California

In California, prior to seeking a court order, parties are required to seek mediation or Child Custody Recommending Counseling Services (CCRS). Both services allow parents a chance to discuss and resolve any disagreements regarding child custody and visitation. Mediators or CCRS counselors can also help parents set out a reasonable plan for custody and visitation.

  • Counties in California have different procedures related to mediation or CCRS and you should consult with an attorney or your local court prior to making any decisions.
  • Riverside County
    Prior to attending mediation, each parent must complete an online course.
  • San Bernardino County
    Prior to attending mediation, each parent must attend an orientation meeting.

Types of Visitation Plans

The visitation plan is intended to provide both parents with adequate visitation with their child. The plan should be designed to create a scenario that allows the maximum amount of visitation possible.

  • Scheduled Visitation: A scheduled visitation order is exactly what it sounds like—an order for visitation that is based on a detailed schedule. This type of plan should specify the dates and times of visitation, which holidays the child spends with each parent, and how summer vacations and school breaks are divided. This type of plan helps eliminate any potential conflicts related to who spends time with the child and when. This plan is probably ideal in situations where the parents have a hard time agreeing to a visitation schedule.
  • Reasonable Visitation: This plan lacks the details of a scheduled plan and provides a situation where the parents can work out the details between themselves. This plan works well where parents maintain good communication with each other and are flexible as to the times and dates of visitation. However, problems can arise if there is conflict between the parents in the future.
  • Supervised Visitation: This plan is best when there are concerns about the safety and well-being of the child, such as in cases of domestic abuse. The court can help the parties work out the details as to how the supervision is arranged as well as the time and duration of the visits.

Effect of Domestic Violence on Visitation Agreements

In situations where there are allegations of domestic violence, the court can issue an emergency protective order. The protective order can be made permanent if the court finds that there is support for the allegations. To ensure everyone’s safety, a parenting plan should be developed that specifies the time, date, place, and means of transferring the child for visitation purposes.

  • A judge will consider a case domestic violence when:
  • One parent was convicted of domestic violence in the last five years
  • Any court has found that one of the parents committed an act of domestic violence against the other parent or the children

In cases where the abused party is staying at a domestic violence shelter, the court can order that the transfer of the child be done in manner that will keep the location of the shelter confidential.

Third Party Visitation Rights

In certain circumstances, parties other than the parents can seek visitation rights with the child. Unlike custody rights, visitation rights may be granted to grandparents, stepparents, domestic partners, or foster parents. However, the right of third parties to visit a child is limited by the parent’s rights to make decisions regarding the care, custody, and control of the child. Family courts cannot grant visitation to third parties over the objections of the parents unless the court engages in a complicated process of evaluating whether granting the visitation right would infringe on the parent’s constitutional right.

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At the Law Office of Michael R. Young, our San Bernardino divorce lawyers have helped families through challenging family law matters for numerous years. In this time, our firm has handled all sorts of family law cases, from child support to settlement agreements. You need a strong advocate during times like these who can represent your best interests while prioritizing the interests of your child as well. We have been AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, rated A+ by BBB, and given a 10/10 “Superb” rating on Avvo.

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Get Your
Questions Answered

  • What is a contested divorce

    When spouses don’t agree on an issue, whether it involves child custody or spousal support, a divorce is considered contested. It is the most complicated type of divorce, as a couple will need to go through numerous steps to finalize their divorce. Since contested divorces often go to divorce court with a judge, having legal representation during the trial is crucial.

  • How is spousal support or alimony calculated

    There are numerous factors considered when a judge is determining how much and how long alimony should be paid. Some of those factors include the earning capacity of each spouse, how long the marriage lasted, the standard of living during the marriage, each spouse’s health and age, marital debts and property, and the sacrifices each spouse made during the marriage (such as staying at home with the children so the other spouse could work).

  • Who pays child support and how is child support determined

    The noncustodial parent will be responsible for child support if the court determines it is necessary or parents come to an agreement to be approved by the court. The factors used to determined child support include the income / earning capacity of each parent, the number of children shared, each parent’s expenses, child care expenses, and other related issues.

  • How is property divided

    California is a community property state. That means each spouse is given 50% ownership of the property accumulated during the marriage. This can include homes, vehicles, art, checking accounts, retirement / pension funds, small businesses, and other valuables. Items, accounts, or valuables that were kept separate throughout the entire marriage may be considered separate property and are therefore not subject to property division laws.

  • How long does it take for a divorce to be final

    This can depend on a number of factors, such as whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce. Even if a divorce is uncontested, there is a six-month waiting period in California for the judge to grant a divorce. Likewise, those seeking contested divorces must wait six months for a trial to be ordered. How quickly a divorce is finalized will also depend heavily on how easily spouses agree on matters such as child support, property division, alimony, child custody, and other important matters.

  • Why should I hire a family law and divorce attorney

    Going through a divorce or family law dispute can be complicated, confusing, and emotional. Regardless of whether spouses or family members think they are on the same page, having an attorney who is looking out for the best interests of the client can be invaluable. When you hire an attorney, you can have peace of mind knowing your rights and interests will be protected throughout the process. It can also take a great burden off your shoulders during a volatile or emotionally challenging time.

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With over four decades of collective insight, we are well-versed on handling even the most complex family law issues in California, from grandparents’ rights to domestic violence and restraining orders. When you need a compassionate family law attorney that you can trust to have your best interests in mind every step of the way, turn to our firm.

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