The topic of child visitation rights is relevant to non-custodial parents, i.e. the parents who do not have custody over the child. This article aims to detail some key concepts in relation to this matter including child custody, and child visitation rights.
What are child visitation rights? Child visitation rights are a form of parental rights which allow a non-custodial parent to spend quality time with their child. They allow the parent whom the child does not regularly reside with to take physical custody of the child for specific, regularly-scheduled periods of time.
You must be wondering, why should non-custodial parents get to spend time with the child? This is because Australian family legislation requires that the child build a strong relationship with both parents following a divorce or separation or breakdown of de facto relationship.
In Australia, the family court always give paramount consideration to the best interests of the child as stated in Section 60CC of the Family Law Act (1975) for all matters regarding custody, and/or visitation. The primary considerations under best interests of the child include the following:
- the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child’s parents; and
- the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.
Some of the secondary considerations under best interests of the child include:
- any views expressed by the child and any factors (such as the child’s maturity or level of understanding) that the court thinks are relevant to the weight it should give to the child’s views
- the nature of the relationship of the child with each of the child’s parents; and other persons (including any grandparent or other relative of the child.
- the maturity, sex, lifestyle and background (including lifestyle, culture and traditions) of the child and of either of the child’s parents, and any other characteristics of the child that the court thinks are relevant
And all other considerations as listed here.
Child Visitation Rights: How Does It Work?
When one parent has sole parental responsibility, or sole custody of the child, the non-custodial parent will need child visitation rights. These are important for the non-custodial parent to spend quality time with their child/children, and to build a meaningful relationship with them.
There are various arrangements that can be made to make sure that the other parent gets time to visit his/her child. For instance, depending on each family’s circumstances and schedules, arrangements could be made for every other weekend, or every school holiday, or a few days every week etc.
The only reason why a court may deny child visitation rights to a parent is if the parent has in some way exposed the child to abuse, neglect or harm. Otherwise, all courts believe that it is very important for the child to have a relationship with both his/her parents.
A parenting plan is a form of parenting agreement wherein there is a written record of the agreement between the parents about the care of the child.
Parenting plans are signed by both parents, and are also dated. These are informal plans that are drafted when involved parties reach an agreement about the care of the child.
Parenting plans can include information about who is to live with the child and who will be the primary carer, and how the other parent will get child visitation rights, including the schedules.
In cases where both parties are happy with the parenting plans, they can make an application for consent orders, which make the parenting plans legally binding. This is an important step to take if you anticipate future disputes on your parenting plans.
Parenting plans are the best option when the parties can reach an agreement. However, sometimes the parents might not be able to agree on a visitation schedule. In cases where there are disagreements, the parties need to try dispute resolution services, in the form of family dispute resolution or mediation.
If these methods are not successful, the parties may need to approach the court. Section 64B and 65C of the Family Law Act 1975 outlines details about parenting orders, and who can apply for parenting orders respectively.
People who can apply for parenting orders include:
- either one, or both of the child’s parents; or
- the child; or
- the grandparent of the child; or
- any other person – relative or otherwise – who is concerned with the welfare and care of the child.
A parenting order usually deals with issues like:
- who the child is to live with
- the allocation of parental responsibilities between the two parents and if there there is equal shared parental responsibility
- the amount of time the child is to spend with the other parent (the parent who does not live with the child)
- how the child is to have communication with the other parent
- any other aspects of the care, welfare and development of the child
JB Solicitors’ Legal Guidance For Child Visitation Rights
Family law cases are complex, and stressful. This is especially so when children are involved, and there are disputes around custody. For these matters, having a legal professional to help you with your matter eases your burden.
At JB Solicitors, our compassionate and experienced family lawyers are dedicated to providing you with the best quality legal advice. With their expert guidance, you can chalk out efficient parenting plans to detail custody and visitation information.
In case of conflicts, we offer expert mediation services and have award-winning mediators in our Family Law team. Moreover, if you think that the existing parenting plans and arrangements are not up to the mark, you can contact your family lawyer who will review the terms, and help you reach your desired outcome.
We offer fixed-fee pricing for family law because we value transparency and wish to provide you with a clear sense of the costs right from the start. Our lawyers are here to help you navigate through complex legal procedures in divorce, separation, child custody, visitation proceedings, and other family law matters.
Contact our experienced and friendly team of lawyers to have a confidential discussion about your issue.