There are multiple reasons why a parent ends up fighting for child visitation. For example, a parent might bar the other parent from seeing a child in retaliation for a relationship gone bad when going through a separation or divorce or if never married. It can be that one parent wants to protect the child from the other parent who has a drug or alcohol problem, anger issues, or a history of physical or emotional abuse.
Sometimes, a parent abuses the court system, even going as far as making false allegations against the other parent to prevent him or her from seeing the child. Also, during a custody battle, courts will often give one parent custodial rights until working everything out through the court system.
Regardless of the situation, if the parent seeking visitation has no issues, the most critical step involves hiring a reputable family law attorney. With specialized expertise and knowledge of the court system, the attorney will work hard to make visitation possible. Even if the parent has some challenges, an excellent lawyer will fight for visitation rights if safe for the child.
Whether married or unwed, if you want visitation with your child, your attorney will take different steps, including:
- File a Petition for Visitation – A petition for visitation tells the court that it is in the best interest of the child to see the mother or father. By filing, you request to have time with your child on a regular and consistent basis.
- After Filing – Once your attorney files the petition for visitation, the other parent receives papers notifying him or her. If a mother is unsure who the father is, denies the person claiming to be the father visitation, or fails to put the potential father’s name on the birth certificate, the attorney will file another request with the court to have DNA testing done. With that, testing either confirms or denies the person seeking visitation is the child’s biological father. With any questions about DNA resolved, hopefully, you can work out an amicable solution before going to court. If not, your attorney proceeds to the next step.
- Petition for Visitation – With no DNA testing required, a judge sets a date and time for both parents to appear in court. In court, you and the child’s other parent share positive or negative things with the judge as to why the court should approve or deny visitation. For example, if you feel the child’s other parent is mentally or emotionally unstable, takes illicit drugs, drinks too often, cannot hold down employment, and so on, the court considers all that. Based on the allegations, the judge might require additional testing, perhaps a mental evaluation or drug test. With the results back, the court continues your case or pushes it back.
- Final Decree – After hearing arguments from each person’s attorney and once any extra testing is complete, the court will determine if you get visitation. If so, both parents must comply with a set schedule. Sometimes, a parent must have supervised visitation for a few months, whereas, in other cases, normal visitation starts immediately. Either way, the court always puts the child’s best interest first, wanting him or her in a stable, safe, and loving environment.