Creating a visitation schedule can be one of the most challenging aspects of a divorce or custody dispute. Parents often have different ideas about what the schedule should look like and what type of arrangement would work best for their children. For the non-custodial parent, seeing their children regularly is vital for their ability to maintain a meaningful relationship with them.

Disputes about custody and visitation can escalate rapidly and become extremely hostile. If you are seeking visitation with your child, contact a Bethesda visitation lawyer right away to learn more about your rights. Only a dedicated family attorney has the skills and resources necessary to represent you.

Best Interests of the Children

When it comes to visitation and other child-related court decisions, the judge will choose an arrangement that puts the children’s best interests first. The parent’s preferences are not the determining factor. There are many issues that the courts revue in developing a schedule.

If the parent seeking visitation has only spent limited time with the child, this may not impact the amount of time they will have moving forward. Courts are reluctant to create a schedule that benefits one parent over another. Abuse allegations are another serious issue that courts take into account to protect the children’s physical and emotional well-being.

The parents’ locations will matter because if the houses are far apart, frequent weekday overnight visits might not be practicable. Parents seeking visitation should reach out to a Bethesda lawyer to learn what steps they need to take to establish a schedule.

Understanding Custody Issues

Custody involves two main concepts. Physical custody describes to the location where the children will live. In most cases, the child will spend time with both parents, but possibly more of their time with one of the parties than the other.

Legal custody is a separate issue, which involves making major decisions about crucial matters in the child’s life. Parents with joint legal custody can make decisions jointly regarding medical care, education, and religious upbringing. Parents may both take part in these decisions if they share legal custody.

Courts will prefer arrangements that allow both parents to share both forms of custody. However, if the parents cannot agree on major decisions, or if one parent poses risks to a child, the judge may find that it is best to award custody to one parent. In Bethesda, a visitation lawyer can help parents determine their best course of action when attempting to reach a visitation and custody agreement.

Child Support and Visitation

In many cases, the non-custodial parent must pay support to the custodial parent. The court will look at the overnight schedule, based on the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. Importantly, child support is a separate issue from visitation.

If a parent does not pay support, this will not mean that the court will deny visitation. If the parent pays support, this does not guarantee time with the child. It is best to understand the factors that courts look at when setting support.

While it is possible to change a support arrangement later, there are serious consequences for failing to abide by the provisions of the agreement. Child support payments will often impact a person’s finances for many years, so anyone negotiating these terms should find a Bethesda visitation lawyer who can help ensure that they receive fair treatment.

Hiring a Local Visitation Attorney

Visitation is one of the most challenging issues for parents to negotiate. The schedule will ultimately determine when the parent can see their children, which means that it will likely be highly emotional.

Parents have rights when it comes to spending time with their children. Protecting those rights may require the assistance of an experienced Bethesda visitation lawyer.