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Understanding visitation rights under a parenting plan

This Florida family law blog has provided its readers with a number of posts on child custody matters, from information on custodial interference to the basic differences between legal and physical custody. However, there is a related family law topic that often goes hand-in-hand with child custody that many readers may have questions about, and that topic is visitation. This post will explain how a parent may end up with visitation rights in lieu of physical custody after a divorce or separation.

While legal custody is sometimes manageable for parents to share after ending their relationship, shared physical custody can be hard for some divided families to juggle. This may be due to physical distance between the households of the parents, the needs and schedules of the children subject to the custody order or agreement, and other important considerations. When it does not serve the best interests of a child to split his or her time living in each parent's household, then one parent may be granted sole physical custody while the other is granted visitation.

Visitation can be fixed and occur on a regular schedule, or a court may grant a parent reasonable visitation and give the parties discretion over when time between a child and a parent occurs. If there are incidents of violence or abuse in the parent's history, then the parenting time may be subject to supervision, which means that a parent's time with his or her child must occur while in the presence of a designated adult.

A parent with visitation rights has an opportunity to grow their relationship with their children even though they lack physical custody. Custody and visitation orders and agreements can be changed, however, if children would benefit from new arrangements that grant them more time with their non-custodial parents. However, these modifications, either increasing visitation, decreasing visitation, or modifying it in some other way, will likely only come about through a court order. And only then are those changes enforceable. Therefore, those who have questions about child custody and visitation should think about discussing the matter with an experienced family law attorney

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