When a romantic relationship between two parents ends, it can be difficult for everyone involved. This is especially true if a child is involved; the parents must put their differences aside to reach a consensus concerning custody and visitation. But if they cannot, it may lead to legal action.
In most cases, non-custodial parents have the right to visit their child. Visitation is often overseen by a legal arrangement such as a court order or parenting plan. Non-custodial parents must understand their visitation rights to protect them and ensure they are treated fairly.
What Are Non-Custodial Parents’ Visitation Rights?
Non-custodial parents have the right to establish a meaningful relationship with their child and participate in their growth and well-being. In Minnesota, this typically includes visiting rights granted by a court order or parenting plan.
Visitation Rights Granted by a Parenting Plan
In a parenting plan or agreement, parents and other parties (e.g., their attorneys) often use alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or negotiation to reach an amicable agreement on visitation rights. As you can imagine, no two parenting agreements are similar, but a typical one covers the following key areas:
- Where the child lives (physical custody)
- When and where the non-custodial parent will have visits with the child (visiting schedules)
- Who makes major decisions for the child (legal custody)
- With whom the child spends significant vacations, holidays, and birthdays
- How changes to the plan and disputes will be handled
- How contact with family friends, grandparents, and other parties will be handled
- What financial support the non-custodial parent must provide for the child
Please note: This is not a standard outline for all parenting agreements, and different Minnesota parents are free to customize their plans according to their unique needs.
Visitation Rights Granted by a Court Order
If the parents fail to agree on their own, they may have to go to court and ask a judge to decide. The court will then issue a visitation order that outlines when and where the non-custodial parent can visit with the child. Often, these orders include provisions such as:
- The days, times, and duration of visits
- The location of the visits (e.g., at home or a neutral site)
- Whether or not to allow overnight stays, and if so, how often and for how long
- How the parents will manage transportation for the child during visitation
Essentially, the non-custodial parent often receives a minimum of 25% of parenting time. But this is not cast in stone; a judge may reward less than 25% of parenting time if it is not in the child’s best interests to spend time with the non-custodial parent. This may also be true if spending more time with the parent may harm the child’s emotional and physical well-being.
Visitation rights granted by a court order typically remain in effect until the child turns 18 or until there is a court order or agreement modifying them. If either parent wants to change the visitation schedule, they must petition the court for a modification. For example, suppose one parent moves out of state, or the non-custodial parent gets incarcerated. In that case, they may have to ask the court for permission to modify their visitation rights accordingly.
Do I Need a Custody Lawyer to Protect My Visitation Rights?
Yes, hiring a family lawyer to help you understand and protect your visitation rights is highly recommended. It is not uncommon for the other parent to challenge visitation rights or for them to be violated by either party. In such cases, having a legal advocate can help ensure your rights are respected, and your child’s best interests are considered.
Here are the top reasons/benefits of having a competent child custody lawyer by your side:
- Valuable advice and guidance on the legal process. A family attorney will help you understand the laws regarding visitation rights and how to protect them. Further, they can explain the nuances of Minnesota parenting laws and capitalize on loopholes that work to your advantage.
- Drafting and negotiating a parenting agreement. The depth of your child visitation rights depends on the language you use in your parenting agreement. Your lawyer will help you draft and negotiate a legally binding agreement that outlines your visitation rights and ensures they are respected.
- Settling disputes out of court. If there is a dispute over visitation rights, your attorney can help you mediate or negotiate an amicable resolution outside of court. This saves time, energy, and money.
- Expert representation in court. If your visitation rights are violated, your lawyer will fight for you in court to ensure your rights are respected and enforced. These legal experts can also assist with other issues, such as child support payments or modifications to the visitation schedule.
- Enforcing the visitation schedule. If the other parent fails to adhere to the agreed-upon plan, your lawyer can help you take legal action and enforce the visitation schedule.
An Experienced Duluth Family Lawyer Can Help!
Child visitation rights are an important issue for all non-custodial parents. It is essential that you understand your rights and how to protect them to ensure your child’s best interests are prioritized. Hiring a family lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in understanding, protecting, and enforcing your visitation rights.
A skilled yet compassionate family lawyer at Benjamin Kaasa Law Office can help non-custodial parents understand and pursue their visitation rights. We have years of experience helping Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin families navigate complex family law issues. When you contact us to schedule a free, private consultation, you can trust that we will provide the guidance and support you need.