Our Stockton Child Visitation Lawyer Helps You Navigate Your Rights
In the case of separation or divorce, parents must establish child custody and visitation rights. These serve to establish the role each parent will play in their child’s life, including where the child will live, how the child will be raised, and how often the child will see each parent. If you do not have physical custody of your child, you are typically entitled to visitation rights. To ensure you receive the time you deserve with your child, it is important to have the right Stockton child visitation lawyer on your side. Our legal team at MCJG is an invaluable resource for parents struggling with child custody and visitation rights.
California Visitation Laws
Visitation laws dictate how parents will spend time with their children after divorce. A parent may be granted physical or legal custody of any children. Physical custody dictates where the child will live, and legal custody relates to the child’s upbringing. Parents who do not have physical custody of their child, also known as noncustodial parents, are often granted visitation rights. There are three forms of visitation:
- Scheduled visitation: The court establishes a visitation schedule to prevent conflicts between parents. This details the days and times that the child will be with each parent.
- Reasonable visitation: This order is more flexible than scheduled visitation. It does not specify when children need to be with each parent and allows parents to create their own schedule.
- Supervised visitation: If the child’s well-being is in question, visits may be supervised by a third-party. This may be the case if the child and parent have not seen each other for an extended period of time. Supervised visitation can also be requested if one parent is suspected to have a drug or alcohol problem or a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness. The court can determine the time and place of these visits, as well as the supervising party.
In the case that a parent poses an imminent threat to a child or demonstrates abusive tendencies, a judge may relinquish all visitation rights to protect the best interests of the child.
Establishing Visitation Rights
If you are a noncustodial parent already involved in a family law case, you must prepare and file a motion for visitation. Your Stockton child visitation lawyer can then present this motion to the presiding judge, provided you and the other parent agree upon the visitation request. Noncustodial parents must be up-to-date on their child support obligations when a visitation request is filed.
If you are not involved in a family law case, we can initiate one. We can file a petition on your behalf to establish custody and child support obligations. If the case is initiated by the father, we must first establish paternity. You must also provide proof that you are satisfying your child support obligations.
“The Best Interests of the Child”
At the heart of all child custody and visitation rulings is the best interest of a child. If a child cannot be provided with a safe, loving, and nurturing environment by one parent, the other parent will be more likely to receive sole custody of the child. Additionally, the non-custodial parent may have limited visitation rights with their child because it is in the best interests of the child. These kinds of considerations are important if a child grew up in a hostile or abusive environment, which are factors that can be brought up during divorce proceedings.
A Stockton Child Visitation Lawyer at Our Firm Can Also Help with Visitation Modifications
Families are likely to go through numerous changes in the years before the child turns 18, especially if the child is very young at the time of the divorce or separation. Some changes that may require a modification of your visitation order include the relocation of a parent or an inability to meet the requirements of the existing visitation order. The parent who files for a modification must prove circumstances have changed, making the previous order unsustainable. Again, the court will make a decision based on the child’s best interests.
Why Child Visitation Orders Are Modified
Ultimately, the best interests of a child define both child custody orders as well as any modifications to these existing orders. Courts try to err on the side of what allows a child to have an ideal upbringing given all circumstances involved.
- Changes in the Child’s Circumstance – As a child gets older, he or she may become involved in various extracurricular activities that benefit them in the long run (e.g., sports, music, theater) but affect an existing visitation order. In these cases, the order is altered to accommodate the life of the child.
- Changes in a Parent’s Circumstances – Similarly, various changes might occur in a parent’s life that require changes to child visitation orders. This might include relocation to another city or state, changes in career, or changes in work schedule.
- Emergencies or Child Endangerment – If there is evidence of physical abuse, emotional abuse, or other forms of child endangerment, visitation orders can be changed so that the child is protected from harm. Medical emergencies and hospitalization can also result in modifications to child visitation orders.
- Improving the Child’s Situation – These kinds of visitation modifications occur when a parent demonstrates their ability to provide a better life or living situation for their child. Again, the best interests of the child are most important to consider.
- Offering Better Stability at Home – Stability at home is key to a child’s overall well-being, and it can take many forms. The overall stability of a household or living situation is important to keep in mind when it comes to modifying child visitation orders.
- Mutual Agreements to Modifications – Couples may be able to reach a metal agreement to modify child visitation orders outside of court. Once that agreement is reached, both parents will submit their written modifications of the child visitation terms to the court. Both small and large modifications can be handled this way when parents are in mutual agreement.
- Court Petition to Modify Child Visitation – If there is a dispute between the parents and a mutual agreement cannot be reached, a petition can be submitted to court. A hearing will be held for each parent to argue their case. The court will ultimately make a final decision regarding visitation orders, once again keeping the child’s best interests in mind.
Let an Experienced Stockton Child Visitation Lawyer Assist You
The stakes are simply too high to risk your parental rights without securing adequate help from a Stockton child visitation lawyer. Call us at 209-477-8171 or complete an online intake form to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced attorney at our Stockton family law firm We serve clients throughout California and the Central Valley.