The California courts recognize the importance of maintaining parent-child relationships, even when the parent in question doesn’t have full or even partial custody of their children. If a judge believes the presence of a non-custodial parent in a child’s life would be beneficial to the child, visitation may be ordered.
Visitation is an arrangement where the non-custodial parent and their child are given time to bond. Although parents without legal custody can’t make significant choices for their children (such as where to go to school or what kind of medical care to receive), visitation provides them an opportunity to connect and form important relationships.
When determining visitation, California judges can order any of four types:
- Reasonable Visitation
- Scheduled Visitation
- Supervised Visitation
- No Visitation
Let’s discuss these in a little more detail below.
What Is Reasonable Visitation?
Reasonable visitation is an open-ended court order. It essentially empowers parents to come up with their own arrangements for visitation. Judges are inclined to order reasonable visitation when two parents have an amicable relationship and are focused on doing what’s best for their children. This implies that the parents are willing to work out the terms of visitation between each other and without interference from the court.
Reasonable visitation can work forever, or it may break down over time. If parents begin to find themselves experiencing more conflict that requires involvement with the court to resolve, a judge may order scheduled visitation.
What Is Scheduled Visitation?
Scheduled visitation is much more structured than reasonable visitation. Specifically, it’s structured by the court, which can determine an outline for the days of the week, dates, holidays, special occasions, and times during which each parent has visitation with their children.
Scheduled visitation can be ordered from the onset, which may be the case when parents experience too much conflict over this issue. It can also be ordered after parents who were given more flexibility with reasonable visitation begin to experience difficulty with that arrangement.
If a judge believes that it’s in a child’s best interest to maintain contact with a non-custodial parent who could pose a threat to the child’s safety, supervised visitation may be ordered. This is an arrangement where time spent between the child and the non-custodial parent is supervised by the custodial parent, social worker, or another adult to ensure the safety of the child.
Sometimes, though, supervised visitation is ordered when a parent and child are otherwise unfamiliar with each other. In this case, supervision can provide the child with comfort and assurance while becoming acquainted with their parent.
Lastly, a judge may order no visitation between a child and their noncustodial parent. This is most commonly done when the judge believes there is a significant risk that the parent will cause physical or emotional harm to the child. When no visitation is ordered, the noncustodial parent is forbidden from contact with their child.