Setting appropriate visitation for the noncustodial parent is an important thing, no matter which side of the divorce you find yourself. Visitation and access schedules need to be carefully created to protect the best interests of the child, as well as the rights of both parents.
Working with an experienced Rockville, MD, child visitation lawyer will help ensure that you arrive at the right visitation schedule, and that both parents’ rights are protected, while simultaneously ensuring the child or children in the divorce are able to spend adequate time with both parents.
Where legal custody and residential custody refer to who will be making decision concerning the child and with which parent the child will reside, access or visitation addresses the non-custodial parent’s rights to spend time with the child. Access or visitation schedules specifically detail the manner, method, and frequency with which the non-custodial parent shall spend time with the child. Residential custody is subject to the non-custodial parent’s visitation schedule. Visitation rights are protected by the Court and cannot be unilaterally modified or denied by a parent, even if that parent has sole legal custody. The Maryland Court has great latitude and broad discretionary powers in determining what type of visitation schedule is in a child’s best interest. Maryland requires judges to make decisions about child custody and visitation based upon what the Court determines to be in a child’s best interest. Maryland law doesn’t provide a list of factors courts must consider but, instead, relies upon judges evaluate the facts and circumstances of each case, on a case-by-case basis, in making visitation decisions. It is well within the Court’s discretion to determine whether the parents will follow a specific schedule or allow more general conditions for access outside of direct court intervention programs. Parental cooperation and written parenting agreements are very helpful in guiding the Court in making such decisions. When parents cannot agree on child custody and access issues, the Court may order them to participate in programs offered by the Children’s Rights Council and/or other providers. These programs, such as SPEAK and Safe Haven or Gift Exchange access centers help them better cooperate and increase parental awareness of the affect negative behaviors may have on their child.
Visitation rights, of some sort, are almost invariably awarded in custody cases. It is rare when a parent is denied any access rights. However, there are circumstances when a parent’s rights of visitation are limited or circumscribed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of a child. The Court can, and does, impose restrictions and/or limitations on visitation in order to assure the safety and welfare of a minor child. Visitation and custody restrictions occur when:
1. There is a history of spouse abuse
2. There is a history of child abuse or neglect
3. There is a history of alcohol abuse and/or substance abuse.
4. That there is a proven harmful exposure to the other parent’s paramour or significant other.
5. Limitation or smoking or consuming alcohol when a child is present.
6. Mental health counseling, family counseling, and/or medication compliance.
7. Anger management
8. Parent skills education
9. Safe child transfer or transition between parents
10. Advance notice of relocation.
11. Proper use of an infant or child car seat
12. Supervised access