If there are children born within a marriage and their parents subsequently divorce, one of the most important aspects of that divorce that those parent’s need family lawyers to help them with, is visitation rights.
In many cases, these are negotiated amicably, and both the parents, and more importantly, the children, do not need to experience the angst and the stress of a protracted disagreement, and court appearances.
Sadly, in those cases where the parents cannot agree, it can be that one parent is refusing to allow the other to see their children. On the other side of the coin, the parent who responsible for spousal and child support may refuse to pay any, unless they get the visitation rights that they want, rather than what is appropriate.
Whatever the specifics of a failure to agree on visitation rights which both parents are happy with, the likelihood is that the matter will need to be decided by the court. Here, it will be for a judge to listen to both sides and then determine what visitation will take place.
Ironically, when the matter has to be decided like this, each parent might find that had they given just a little bit of ground when the negotiations were taking place before going to court, they may have got closer to what they wanted, than what the judge has ruled.
Of course, there may not have been any chance of settling out of court, given the action of one of the parents. This is where a bitter split takes place, and one or both parents decide that they are going to use the children as weapons against the other.
One specific example is where a mother might decide that she is going to refuse to let the children’s father see them under any circumstances, in the mistaken view that it somehow helps her cause, which almost certainly it won’t.
This will lead to the children’s father seeking legal help and most likely this will mean his family lawyers putting the wheels in motion on the road towards proceedings.
At court, the father may be painted as a loving and caring one, who wishes to play a positive role in the upbringing of his child or children by his lawyers. Conversely, the mother’s lawyers may state that far from being a loving father, he is a drunk with a violent streak who she fears may physically harm the children.
Regardless of how accurate either of those two descriptions of the father is, at the initial hearing a judge will tend to be cautious, and whilst they may grant visitation, they could order it to be supervised, or limited in some way. Whilst a father might object, this can often be a positive step in the sense that he is actually going to be able to see his children.
At a later date, with more comprehensive evidence, including observations from those supervising the father’s visitations, and with both the mother and father being able to stand up and make their personal argument for or against the visitations, the judge will make a final decision.
Whether you are a father or a mother, it is important that you realise that once the court decision is made, it must be adhered to. If you are unprepared, or worse, have no legal representation, your ability to communicate your case to the judge is compromised. This is why employing a family lawyer is vital for parents who are in dispute with their ex-spouse over visitation rights.