California Child Visitation Rights 2024 – All You Need to Know

Visitation schedules can be anything that makes sense for your children. We put help you prioritize your children.

August 15, 2023

A child visitation right is the legal permission granted to a non-custodial parent or guardian to spend time with a child. Visitation is typically an arrangement established in scenarios where only one parent was deemed fit for child custody, but the children would not be in any danger to visit their other parent on the occasion. It’s a way to help the non-custodial parent maintain a relationship with their children while they work on themselves to one day be reconsidered capable of custody.

California’s visitation options are designed to meet the diversity of different family scenarios. By understanding the different avenues that exist, divorcing parents can have a better sense of what arrangement might suit their new family structure.

Types of Visitation Arrangements in California

Scheduled Visitation: This is one of the most commonly leveraged arrangements for newly divorced couples with children. In a scheduled visitation structure, both parents mutually agree on a comprehensive, structured visitation calendar each year. This will force both parents to consider when the children will spend certain holidays, birthdays, and other occasions with each parent. This may require both parents to make some sacrifices. For example, one parent might allow the other parent to have the kids on Christmas Day so they can have the children on another day of importance.

Reasonable Visitation: Unlike the detailed structure of scheduled visitation arrangements, reasonable visitation is more open-ended. Parents agree that life can be unexpected and would prefer to make visitation decisions on the fly throughout the year. This requires a ton of cooperation from both parents and only works in situations where the parting couple is still able to be cordial with one another for the sake of the children.

Supervised Visitation: The court may demand that a supervised visitation program be implemented if there is any concern about the safety of the children. In these scenarios, a neutral third party or agency must be present during all visits. This could look like the non-custodial parent being required to visit their children in a neutral facility or an agency member coming to visit the home.

Virtual Visitation: Technological advancements have added virtual visitations to the mix of options. This is where parents are allowed to interact with the child via video calls, text messaging, or other virtual formats. Sometimes, a parent may be restricted to just virtual visits, while other times, they may complement another arrangement.

What Factors Influence Visitation Rights?

Maintaining what is most favorable to the children in a post-marriage arrangement is the number one priority of the court. A lot of the factors involved in the visitation decision-making process revolve around the children’s needs. Some of these include the age of the children, how safe they would be in any given arrangement, and what their relationship with each parent looked like while the marriage was still intact.

The court will also do a background check on both parents to make sure there is no history of addiction or child abuse. In addition to the formal investigation, they will also allow both parents to give their own testament if they think the other parent should have custody or visitation. Any new information brought to light that questions a parent’s ability to still love and nurture the children will be investigated.

FAQs About California Child Visitation Rights 2024

What Deems a Parent Unfit in California?

Concern for a parent’s ability to be an effective parent will come into question if there is any reason to believe a child’s physical or emotional well-being is at risk. Any history of neglect or substance abuse will often raise red flags on their ability to care for this child. Even if their condition is of no fault of their own, like a mental illness, the court still needs to carefully evaluate the risks based on the parent’s condition. Situations like these could cause a parent to lose the possibility for custody and only grant that parent a visitation agreement for the foreseeable future.

At What Age Does a Child Have a Say in Visitation in California?

Child preference is a heavily weighed factor in visitation considerations, especially when they are of age to vocalize such a mature opinion. Typically, 14 years or older is the age at which the court will ask the child what type of arrangement they would like to see after their parent’s divorce. The reason why there is not a finite rule on age is that every child’s maturity level varies, and sometimes, it’s the specific actions of the parent being evaluated that have led to a child’s slower development. Just because a child is under 14 or lacks maturity doesn’t mean the court won’t seek their opinion, but it will have less weight on the final outcome.

How Can a Non-Custodial Parent Request More Visitation Time in California?

There is a formal system in place for any non-custodial parents who want to request more time with their children. When this happens, the parent must file for a modification request with the same court that issued the initial custody and visitation decision. Requests that are typically granted are when the parent demonstrates a significant change in circumstances that did not exist during the original hearing. For example, they may now have an improved living situation or have completed a rehabilitation program. Once the request is filed, both parties will attend either mediation or a court hearing to reevaluate the arrangement and come to a decision on how the family unit will operate moving forward.

Are Grandparents Entitled to Visitation Rights in California?

Yes, there are specific circumstances that grant grandparents the authority to request a formal visitation arrangement. For example, if the grandparent demonstrates a strong bond with their grandchild and wants to formalize a visitation agreement out of fear the connection could be lost, the court may award this request. This is especially true when one of the child’s parents was deemed unfit for custody and may not even have visitation rights. The court will assess the grandparent’s qualifications for visitation just like it would for birth parents, looking into their past relationship with the child to see if there are any safety concerns.

Contact the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin, APC, Today for Visitation Support

If you are in the midst of a custody battle and need legal counsel to help negotiate a visitation arrangement, contact the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin, APC, immediately. Sensitive topics require stellar advocacy, and we understand all of the legal nuances that make up a final decision on custody and visitation.

Call today to speak with Hollie A. Lemkin to discuss your questions & issues!


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