There’s nothing more important in a parent’s life than their children. They’ll do anything to provide for them—whether that’s through offering financial, physical, or emotional support. The bond between a parent and child is strong, and this is true even when two parents separate or get a divorce. When a divorce occurs, you and your co-parent will have to come to an agreement on custody and establish a child visitation schedule. This can be easier said than done, especially if the two parents are at odds with one another and are not able to communicate effectively. However, it’s essential that these matters are resolved.
At Law Offices of Vescio & Seifert, P.C., our team is here to help. Meeting with a family law attorney can help you understand your rights and responsibilities regarding parenting time, and provide you and your loved ones with much-needed peace of mind. If you’re in the Glendale & Tucson area or anywhere throughout Arizona including the Phoenix Metro area, set up a one-on-one consultation today.
When two parents separate or divorce, they both remain legally obligated to provide for their child and they both retain the right to see their child regularly. Nearly all courts in the country recognize the importance for children to have regular and meaningful contact with both parents, unless one parent poses a danger to the child in some way. However, what this looks like in practice will vary for each family. In some cases, there may be one parent who’s awarded full legal custody and the other who has visitation rights, while in other cases, custody can be shared jointly. In situations where the two parents can agree to a plan, a judge will likely approve it—but if the parents can’t come to an agreement on a visitation plan, the courts will step in to make a determination.
When this happens, a judge will look at several factors when establishing parenting time. These may include the wishes of each parent, the wishes of the child if old enough, the best interests of the child, the ability of each parent to provide for their child, and the willingness of each parent to support a relationship with the other parent.
Throughout the course of your child’s life, it’s only natural that adjustments may need to be made. Any parenting plan modification should be approved through the courts, even if you and your co-parent are in agreement on the changes. If one parent does not agree to the modification, you can file a petition with the courts requesting the change. However, you will need to show that you have a “substantial and continuing” change in your life that warrants the modification. This could include a significant change to your work schedule or job, your living situation, or the educational or health needs of your child. The court will then review your file and petition and decide whether the modification can be granted while still meeting the best needs of the child and ensuring both parents’ rights are upheld.
In general, you’ll have to wait at least one year from the original parenting plan was approved to petition the court for a modification, though there are emergency measures you can take if the child is in danger somehow. It’s important to contact your attorney for help with any of these situations.
If either parent feels their visitation rights aren’t being upheld, it’s extremely important that you don’t attempt to enforce it on your own. If your co-parent is withholding your child from seeing you, the best thing you can do is contact a lawyer and the courts to explain the situation. It can be helpful, with your attorney’s guidance, to keep a log of all the missed visitations to use as evidence.
On the other hand, if you ever feel like you want to restrict the visitation rights of your co-parent (for example, if they’ve failed to pay child support), you should never do this. By attempting to get in the way of the visitation rights of your co-parent, you may be risking your own parental rights. Failure to pay child support is never an adequate legal reason to keep a child away from their parent. If you have a legitimate concern over the safety of your child, contact a lawyer and have them advise you on your next steps.