In a Divorce or custody action, permission granted by the court to a noncustodial parent to visit his or her child or children. Custody may also refer to visitation rights extended to grandparents.
In a divorce where one parent is awarded sole custody of the child, the noncustodial parent is usually awarded visitation rights in the divorce decree. Visitation rights can be withheld if evidence is provided that proves it is in the best interest of the child not to see the parent. This usually occurs only where it has been shown that the parent is an excessive user of alcohol, a user of illegal narcotics, or is physically or verbally abusive. With the large number of divorced parents in the United States, grandparents have lobbied successfully for laws that give them rights to visit their grandchildren. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has voiced concerns about such laws and ruled one such statute unconstitutional in 2000.
Visitation rights may be determined by the agreement of the parties or by a court order. If the court concludes that the parents will be cooperative, it may not issue a detailed visitation schedule. This means that parents must amicably work out reasonable times and terms that work best for both parents and child. If parents are not cooperative, the courts encourage the drafting of a detailed schedule that leaves no doubt about the frequency of visitation, the days and times of pickup and return, and holiday and vacation schedules.