In the context of child custody, visitation is the right for a noncustodial parent to have visitation or parenting time with his/her child. Mississippi allows for the noncustodial parent to have visitation with his/her child absent some compelling reason to the contrary. The court will grant “liberal” unrestricted visitation to a noncustodial parent.
In Mississippi “liberal” visitation is unrestricted overnight visitation is two weekends per month, generally from Friday evening through Sunday evening, and at least five weeks of summer visitation, and alternating holiday visitation. More or less visitation may be awarded depending upon the facts of the case. For example, a noncustodial parent which lives out of state will likely be granted additional visitation during the longer school holidays, such as Christmas, and additional time during the summer in lieu of weekend visitation, given that due to distance and time weekend visitation would likely be impractical.
Unless there is proof that standard visitation would be detrimental to the child, a noncustodial parent should be granted liberal visitation. Absent a showing of proof of actual harm to the child the court is abusing its discretion if it grants less than liberal visitation. Examples of concrete proof would include a showing of abusive behavior, drug or alcohol abuse, or mental illness of the noncustodial parent which would cause the child to suffer.
In cases were the parent and child have not had a relationship, the court must still grant unrestricted, liberal visitation absent a showing of proof of actual harm to the child. If it is necessary for the parent/child to build a relationship, the court may be willing to grant a graduated visitation schedule which builds towards standard visitation.
Mississippi law has adopted a policy of ensuring that children and their noncustodial parent can maintain a relationship with their child/ren. Visitation is important to allow a parent and child to develop and maintain a loving relationship. Visitation also encourages the development of a meaningful relationship between parent and child through continuous contact. The court will grant liberal visitation unless it is contrary to the best interest of the minor child.
Child support and visitation are viewed as two separate issues under the law. A parent should not withhold visitation for nonpayment of child support. In fact, if the parent who is owed child support denies visitation he/she is violating the court order and could be found to be in contempt. Furthermore, the court could modify the prior order in hi based upon a change in circumstances adverse to the minor child due to refusal of visitation.
Ideally parents will work together for the best interest of the minor child/ren. It is important that a court order with provisions for custody and visitation be highly structured and clearly written. The order should clearly state the dates of visitation, times and locations of custody exchanges, responsibility for transportation and costs, and all other arrangements between the parties. The reason that the court order, even when the parties are agreeable, must be clearly written is to avoid any later litigation.
Child support and visitation are two separate issues. You are required to follow all court orders, regardless of whether or not the other party is failing to follow the court's order. If you refuse to follow the court order based upon the other party's failure to follow the order, you can be found in contempt of court for your violation of the court order. The other party's failure is not a valid defense.
Whether you are looking to be the custodial parent or the noncustodial parent, child visitation is very important to both parents. It is important to have an attorney that can assist in the preparation of well written and proper court order which specifies visitation rights. A well written custody order by a lawyer which provides for visitation can assist in the cooperation between the parents and prevent future litigation. Contact Evans Law Firm, PLLC for your needs.
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