San Diego: 2012: Visitation Rights of a Non-Custodial Parent

In a divorce or paternity or legal separation in San Diego, when custodial rights are granted to one parent, visitation rights are generally awarded to the other if the San Diego Judge does not order both joint legal and joint physical custody. Child visitation rights are a privilege and not a matter of right, as many believe. Child visitation rights could be denied to a parent but this non-custodial parent might still have to pay child support to the custodial parent. In a family court, child support and visitation rights are two disparate entities even though many parents in San Diego believe that if a parent denies visitation then no support can be ordered.

Determining Family Visitation Rights in San Diego Superior Court

The court prefers to leave both custody and visitation rights to be determined by the divorcing parents, but in cases where not any agreement can be reached, the court is forced to intervene and make orders. If the child is old enough, the court may consider and respects the child’s wishes when deciding on custody and visitation rights. Visitation rights are important to both parent and child and the standard is the best interest of the child and not of the parents.

Dates and Times

To avoid a conflict, a parenting plan should go into detail about how the visitation will be handled. A typical draft agreement must include:

  • Overnight visits
  • Specific weekends
  • Locations for pick up and drop offs and times
  • Details of the exchange
  • A special schedule for special events such as birthdays and occasions
Lack of Trust

Sometimes a court might order supervised visitation if it believes the child’s safety and well-being is at risk. Supervision might be through a professional agency or another adult mutually chosen by the parents. If the court feels that visitation might be emotionally or physically damaging to the child, it might disallow visitation by the non-custodial parent. A court could even appoint a representing attorney for the child, known in legal parlance as Minor Counsel. The Court’s in San Diego have a panel of attorneys who represent children and can be appointed by the Judge on a case by case basis.

Custodial vs. Non-Custodial Parent

The parent who has been awarded primary physical custody of the child is the custodial parent. The other parent is the non-custodial parent with whom the child resides only during the times allotted for visitation. If the parents live in the same vicinity, and provided it does not conflict with a child’s normal school schedule, the courts are all in favor, and indeed encourage, regular and frequent visitation. If the parents are separated by long distances, then summer vacations and school breaks are occasions for liberal visitation. Each case is different and unique as are the parenting plans and court orders.

What are the deciding factors for Visitation Terms?

In San Diego, the deciding factors are the best interests of the child which include bonding, stability, frequent and continuing contact by both parents and many others. The Court provides the parents a chance to work out a feasible visitation plan provided it is in the child’s best interest through mediation if no agreement can be reached. In San Diego, this is called Family Court Services and is mandatory for a Judge to make a parenting plan order absent a filed motion or abuse, molest or neglect. Parents can negotiate child visitation rights between themselves or seek a third party to mediate and assist without the assistance of the Court if they would like. If mediation fails [whether formal or information] the court is forced to intervene and make an order. Whatever the court decides in terms of visitation schedule and times are binding on both parents whether they agree or not.

A Law Firm that Knows its Business

Doppelt & Forney, APLC is a family law firm in San Diego with over two decades of experience in dealing with family law matters. Among the many issues they practice are child custody due to child neglect and abuse; child support, and visitation rights. They also handle divorces, legal separations, pre-nuptial agreements, and others. If you have a family law issue of any sort to resolve, do avail of a free, introductory 30-minute consultation.

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