What are my parental visitation rights?

Are you considering divorce? Perhaps you have already started the process. Do you have children? If so, then you obviously have many questions, not the least of which is how can you ensure the well-being of your children. Custody, child support and visitation are no doubt among the top concerns you have as you consider this major step in your life. If you do not plan on being the custodial parent, then certainly one of the biggest questions you might have is what are your visitation rights?

Visitation is an important aspect of any divorce that involves children. Even in those situations when a court decides to give exclusive custody to one parent, the other parent still has a legal right to stay in contact with his or her children, unless there are extenuating circumstances, like abuse or drug use, for example. In fact, according to the Cornell University Law School, even if the court fails to specifically decree visitation rights, the law still allows the non-custodial parent visitation rights.

In those cases that there are extenuating circumstances, a court can rule that the non-custodial parent can have no contact with the children, if the court deems that visitation rights could be harmful to the children. However, the child’s best interest will not necessarily be determined by the child’s stated wishes, because parents have the right to try to rebuild their relationship with their children if it has been frayed.

One other point of interest to keep in mind is that even when a parent has spent time in prison or is presently serving time, he or she does not automatically lose his or her visitation rights.