Pittsburgh Visitation Agreements Attorneys

Father with visitation of daughter

Visitation refers to the right of the parent who doesn’t have physical custody of the child to spend time with their child. Courts can award a parent visitation rights to spend time with their children but not to remove them from their primary residence. Generally, a non-custodial parent’s contact with his or her children can only happen under certain circumstances decided by the court.

The family law attorneys at Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace LLP have extensive experience representing clients in various family law matters, including visitation. If you are involved in a child custody matter, our skilled attorneys can help you pursue the best outcome possible in your case for you and your children. 

Understanding the Child Custody and Visitation Process in Pittsburgh

As with all other types of custody decisions, Pennsylvania family courts make visitation decisions based on the child’s best interest. Courts will issue a formal visitation schedule, including a detailed account of the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights. Family courts prefer to see parents work together to determine the logistics of their testing visitation schedule. When parents are not able to collaborate, the judge will step in and determine a visitation schedule with your children’s best interest in mind.

Suppose you and your co-parent were able to agree on a custody and visitation schedule before the custody hearing. In that case, the judge will usually accept the schedule and incorporate it into his or her ruling. This parenting schedule will indicate when you have the right to visitation with your children. For example, the non-custodial parent may have rights to visitation on the following days:

  • Holidays
  • Summer vacations
  • One or two weeknights, either weekly or every other week
  • Weekends or alternative weekends

What Is Supervised Visitation?

Supervised visitation allows non-custodial parents to visit with their children while being supervised by another agreed-upon person. Courts only order supervised visitation if they decide that the non-custodial parent may place the child in danger unless another adult is present during the visit.

What Are Virtual Visitation Rights?

Courts may allow you to visit with your child or children virtually through a video call. In these cases, the custodial parent will be required to allow the child or children to speak to you through FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or another video service. Courts may award virtual visitation rights when the parents live far away from each other or when physical visitation may be unsafe for the child or children.

When Do Courts Award Visitation? 

When a court denies a parent custody, it will give the parent generous visitation rights. Pennsylvania family courts strongly support and encourage both parents to play an active role in raising their children, even when they decide that living in one consistent physical location is in the child’s best interest. If you’ve recently lost in a dispute over child custody in court but have received visitation rights, it’s crucial that you exercise those rights. When you are scheduled for visitation, showing up on time and spending time engaging with your child, or children will help you maintain your visitation rights and enjoy a close relationship with your child.

The Reasons Courts Deny Parents Visitation Rights

Your child’s safety, well-being, and best interests should be at the forefront of a judge’s mind when he or she makes decisions about visitation. However, if you’ve been denied custody, that doesn’t always mean that the judge decided your home is unsuitable. Similarly, if you haven’t been awarded enough visitation, it could be because of your geographic location. 

Traveling back and forth between two homes isn’t always in the child’s best interest. Referencing the judge’s written ruling in your case should give you a better idea about why the judge denied you custody and visitation. Some of the most common reasons courts deny parents visitation include the following:

  • The parent’s parental rights have been terminated by the court
  • The parent hasn’t exercised his or her past visitation rights
  • The parent no longer contacts the child
  • The parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • The court finds evidence of domestic violence directed toward the child, the child’s sibling, or the child’s other parent

How to Get Visitation Rights After They’ve Been Denied

Courts don’t always grant visitation rights to the non-custodial parent. If you have been denied custody of your children, you may be concerned that you cannot spend quality time with them. It’s important that you understand why the court did not give you visitation rights or custody. In some, but not all cases, the court will clearly state what a parent must do to take steps toward restoring visitation rights. The plan might require the parent to take parenting classes, engage in regular drug testing, or complete rehabilitation for drug or alcohol addiction.

Speaking to an experienced family law attorney can help you understand your legal options to pursue visitation in the future. You may need to change some aspects of your behavior or life to show the court that it’s safe and in your child’s best interest to enjoy regular visitation. An attorney can help you petition the court to modify the child custody arrangement in the future to allow you visitation.

What If My Children Don’t Want to Go to Visitation with the Other Parent?

Following the parenting schedule that the court has approved is essential. Even if you and your co-parent decide to modify the schedule, or your kids don’t want to visit their other parent, you should follow the schedule. If you are concerned about your children’s safety, it’s essential to reach out to an attorney. You can petition the courts to ask for a modification of the custody arrangement or to seek an order of protection based on your children’s best interest.

Modifying a Child Custody and Visitation Plan in Pittsburgh

You can petition the court to modify your visitation rights if you’ve experienced a substantial change, such as a move, job change, or other significant events. Requesting a modification should only be done when you’ve experienced a significant change, so it’s important that you work with an attorney and negotiate an effective visitation schedule at the beginning of the process. 

Contact a Visitation Attorney in Pittsburgh

Navigating the child custody process can be challenging. The attorneys at Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace LLP are here to help you understand your rights. Whether you’ve been denied visitation or want to modify your child custody arrangement, we’re here to help. Contact Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace LLP to schedule an initial consultation.