Visitation rights refer to the amount of time a non-custodial parent spends with their child. For instance, a parent who does not have legal or physical custody of a child still has the right to spend time with them. The specific time you or the other parent can spend with your child is outlined in a visitation schedule. A visitation schedule can be worked out either by the parents or imposed by the court. Depending on your situation, you may want more time with your child or you may want the other parent to have less time with your child.
Whatever the case may be, speaking with an attorney is important to receiving a favorable outcome. Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio & Smith is committed to helping you.
If You Want More Visitation Time
New Jersey visitation laws are designed to put your child first. The court’s duty is to establish a visitation schedule based on the best interests of your child. New Jersey law allows a visitation schedule to be modified in two ways:
- Consent Order
A consent order is the easiest way to get more time with your child. You and the other parent negotiate how much more time you need. Once a new schedule is made, it is sent to the court for approval. The consent order overrides any pre-existing visitation orders.
- Filing a Motion
If you and the other parent cannot agree on a visitation schedule, you have the right to go to court. Your attorney may file a motion on your behalf to increase your visitation rights. To receive more time with your child, you need to establish that there has been a substantial change of circumstances. For example, if your work hours changed and you have more time to spend with your child, that could be a substantial change. The court will either:
- Order a hearing
During the hearing, you must prove with either testimony or evidence that an event happened which should change the original order.
- Order mediation
Mediation may help you and the other parent decide on a new scheduling agreement with the help of a neutral third party.
If no decision is reached during the mediation, then another hearing will be scheduled where a judge will decide visitation rights.
Remember, the other parent has the right to present evidence against any change in the visitation schedule.
If You Want the Other Parent to Have Less Visitation Time
It’s important to note that in New Jersey a parent has a legal right to visit with their child. However, visitation rights can be terminated completely in the event that the parent creates a risk of harm to the child. If for example, the parent is a sex or drug offender, the court may order temporary withholding of visitation.
If you believe that it would not be safe for the other parent to have visitation time with your child, you also have the same two options as mentioned above. If the other parent does not agree to spend less time with your child, you must file a motion for a risk assessment. A risk assessment gives the court the opportunity to determine if the schedule should be changed.
If you’re seeking a change in visitation rights, Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio & Smith is here to help.