How Does Visitation Work After Divorce or Separation?

Visitation is the time a child spends with a parent who does not have custody. Visitation is not a type of custody; it is a separate type of arrangement. If one parent gets sole custody after a separation or divorce, the other parent will have visitation with their child or children. 

Parent Visitation

In a best-case scenario, the parents can come to an agreement about a visitation schedule. This agreement should be in writing and agreed to by both parents. The agreement may cover weekday and weekend visitation, summer visitation, and visitation over school breaks like Spring Break and Thanksgiving. It is common for the noncustodial parent to have visitation over the holidays and school breaks. If the parents cannot work together to come to an agreement, the court will enter a visitation order based on what would be in the child’s best interest. This order will be very specific and will explicitly lay out the dates and times that the noncustodial parent will have visitation, where and how they should conduct pickup and drop-off, and who pays the cost of transporting the child.

In most cases, the non-custodial parent will get unsupervised overnight visits with their child. But if the judge finds that overnight visitation with the non-custodial parent would be dangerous for the child, the judge will require that visitation be supervised. The judge may find that unsupervised visitation with one parent would be dangerous for the child if that parent has a history of substance abuse, domestic violence, or child abuse or neglect. Sometimes, it is not the noncustodial parent but their significant other or other family member who poses a safety risk to the child.

The parent with sole physical custody is legally required to encourage and nurture the child’s relationship with the parent who does not have custody. The parent with custody also must keep the other parent informed of where the child is living at all times, even if they are only living there on a temporary basis for a short period of time. If one parent wants to modify the visitation plan, they need to show that the current visitation plan is not working and that it is in the child’s best interest to modify the order.

Grandparent Visitation

Grandparents have very limited rights in Mississippi. Parents have the constitutional right to raise, care for, and have custody of their own child, but grandparents don’t have any constitutional rights when it comes to their grandchildren.

In Mississippi, if one parent dies, loses custody, or loses parental rights, the grandparents may petition (ask) the court for visitation rights, which the court will probably grant if it is in the best interest of the child. If one parent is being unreasonable and is not letting a grandparent see the grandchildren, that grandparent can request visitation if he or she had a “viable relationship” with the child and visitation with the grandparent would be in the child’s best interest. “Viable relationship” means that the grandparent provided some financial support for at least 6 months or had frequent visitation, including some overnight visits, for at least a year.

Finding an Attorney

If you have been searching the Mississippi area for a qualified, experienced divorce attorney, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. Our firm can handle your case with a balance of compassion and confidence to guide you through one of the most difficult times a person can go through. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and learn about your options.

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