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Child Visitation Guidelines


There are thousands of Americans dealing with child visitation rights and issues. This area of law can be confusing to a parent who is trying to exercise his or her rights. Below are common questions and possibly useful facts about child visitation.

Each state has different laws about child visitation, and your particular divorce agreement might have specific terms regarding visitation rights. You can find out what the law says about visitation in your situation by speaking with a family law attorney in your area.

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Does only one parent always get custody?

The short answer is no. There are many different types of custody that the court can consider.

Joint physical custody is custody where both parents spend approximately the same amount of time with each child. This can be a good option when each parent has the time and wants to be a major part in the child's life.

Joint legal custody is custody where both parents make the major decisions in the child's life. These decisions can include, but are not limited to, medical, education and religious decisions.

Many times, both joint physical custody and joint legal custody can be granted to both parents. This may be a good way to give each parent an equal role in the child's life. Many times, it is difficult for parents that do not get along to get joint physical custody. This requires a lot of cooperation, and if the divorce is bitter, often times the judge will not grant joint custody.

Some of the most common questions people have about custody involves child support. People often wonder: Do I have to pay child support if my ex keeps my children away from me?

The two concepts, child custody/visitation and child support, are separate legal concepts.

The parent ordered to pay child support payments has a distinct legal obligation to make those payments on time as proscribed in the court order. This obligation is independent of the child custody order.

The parent ordered to allow visitation to the other parent has an obligation to allow the other parent to spend time with the child. This obligation is in no way dependent on the payments from the former spouse.

It goes to follow then that the reciprocal of the question is also true. If a parent does not pay child support, but has visitation rights, the parent who is owed the support money cannot bar the parent who owes the money from seeing the child.

In both these cases, the proper remedy is to contact the court system. You can talk to your lawyer about the next steps to take with these issues as well.  Because these are separate legal concepts and obligations, you cannot use one to exert pressure on your former spouse. If you are having trouble with these or other family law issues, contacting a local attorney could be your first step in finding out what the law says about your case.

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