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What is visitation?

In Maryland, seeing your child is a right, not a privilege. So, unless a court has issued a  protective order against you or stopped your visitation, you have a right to spend time with your child. Even if you do not have a joint custody arrangement or one parent has full custody or temporary custody, you still have the right to see your child. 

Visitation, in the court’s language, is when a “non-custodial” parent spends time with their child. You should also know that:

  • Visitation only concerns a parent’s ability to spend time with their child. 
  • Visitation is not related to decision-making over the child’s care. 
  • Visitation is often unsupervised. 
  • Supervised visitation means that the court can appoint someone to oversee visitation if they believe it’s in the child’s best interest.

How is visitation determined?

The court’s preference is that parents amicably work out their child visitation schedules. Parents should ideally provide adequate visitation time for the non-custodial parent, allow for unanticipated changes, and not interfere with the child’s education or healthcare. Starting at the age of 10, children have a say in their visitation. And at the age of 16, children are given full say over their visitation schedule.

Once you create a visitation agreement, the court will examine it based on the child’s best interest. The court can consider: 

  • Living standards of the non-custodial parent
  • Any history of misconduct or abuse
  • Location of the non-custodial parent
  • Length of separation from the non-custodial parent before visitation is established

Should the court find a problem with the agreement, it may choose to adjust the visitation schedule to best serve the child or children.

Who can get visitation?

Biological parents, biological grandparents, and step-parents are all eligible for visitation rights, although it is more difficult for grandparents and step-parents to receive them.

What if my visitation rights are denied?

Only the court can deny visitation rights. If you have an established visitation schedule and the custodial parent is denying you visitation, notify the court immediately. 

However, the court can choose to remove your visitation rights if it believes that visitation will be unsafe or detrimental for the child. But when the court removes visitation, there is usually a path of action that once completed will reinstate your rights. And visitation rights do not require child support to be paid.

How do I get my visitation rights?

Visitation is determined during a divorce, paternity, or custody case. In order to ensure that your rights are protected and that you can navigate the complexities of family law, we recommend hiring a lawyer before starting any of these proceedings. Albers & Associates provide exemplary casework for family law cases for our clients throughout Maryland with offices in Baltimore City, Columbia, Towson, Dundalk, and Westminster. If you have questions, or you’d like to get started right away, then contact us today. Our professionals are ready to help!