A Quick Guide to Child Visitation Rights

Family Lawyer

In the eyes of the courts, biological parents hold certain rights to parent their children. This is true even in cases of absentee parents for most states. Bear in mind that family law varies by state, so you will need to do some research as to the specific laws in your area of residence. Check out the general overview of parental rights below:

Parental Rights

Even if you have not seen your child for years, you will likely be granted some visitation and other rights to your child if you petition the court for them. Of course, there are always exceptions for the safety and well-being of the child. 

Parental Duties

In addition to legal rights, biological parents are also expected to perform some legal duties to aid in the care of their children. In the event that these duties are not performed, a person’s parental rights could be terminated by a court.

Absentee Parent Rights

In general, state laws provide biological parents with rights to custody of their children. Furthermore, they have the right to partake in legal decisions on their child’s behalf. Biological parents also have legal rights when it comes to their children. Parental decision-making rights for minor children can include:

  • Where the child resides
  • Where the child attends school
  • Medical decisions such as surgery and vaccinations
  • Which religion the child is brought up with

Despite being absent from a child’s life for extended periods of time, absentee parents may still be granted these rights by a court. This will not be the case if the other biological parent files to terminate the absentee parent’s rights and is successful in the pursuit. Each state has its own requirements for when parental rights can be terminated. Typically, it is extremely difficult to have parental rights permanently terminated.

Reasons Parental Rights May be Terminated

When a parent has been out of a child’s life for an extended period of time, supervised visitation may be recommended as the child becomes acclimated to spending time with this parent. However, in extreme cases, parental rights can be terminated. Below are several reasons that a parent’s rights could be revoked:

  • Abandonment 
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Being deemed unfit

As our family lawyer friends from AttorneyBernie.com would suggest to their clients, if you want to exercise your parental rights with a biological child you have not seen recently, it’s best to get legal guidance before proceeding.