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Understanding Pennsylvania Child Visitation

By Sheryl Rentz on December 14, 2011

Divorce is a very complicated and difficult thing issue, and when a child is involved, it is important to make things as seamless as possible regarding custody of the child and visitation rights to lessen the impact of the divorce on the child. Visitation refers to the right of a parent to visit a child as one of the types of custody in Pennsylvania, and child visitation guidelines set forth the terms of how physical custody of a child will be shared after the parents’ divorce. The state of Pennsylvania recognizes different types of child custody, however, in addition to visitation, including:

  • Legal Custody: Grants a parent the right to make major decisions regarding the child’s life, such as education or religion.
  • Physical Custody: When a parent has actual care and “possession” of the child.
  • Partial Custody: The right of a parent to take “possession” of a child for a period of time.
  • Shared Custody: Each parent has legal and/or physical custody of the child; ensures the child will have continued access to both parents.

Child visitation guidelines can be determined through a process called mediation. In mediation, parents will meet with a neutral third party mediator who has special training in assisting parents to establish the child visitation guidelines. Mediation allows both parents to create a mutually acceptable set of visitation guidelines without going to court to do so. If both parents agree to the established terms and it is in the best interest of the child, then the agreement will be honored in family court. All child visitation guidelines are legally binding, and the parties involved are responsible for upholding the established agreement.

If a child visitation agreement cannot be reached through this process, the court will then intervene and help establish the visitation guidelines to meet the needs of the child, or children, involved. Court ordered child visitation guidelines will typically allow the non custodial parent to spend every other weekend with the child, some weekdays, and certain holidays. In addition, child visitation guidelines may also be granted to other adults, such as in grandparent child custody or stepparent custody.

Arriving at a mutually acceptable agreement regarding child visitation can sometimes be difficult, but an experienced legal professional can assist if the parents are having problems establishing the visitation guidelines. Sheryl R. Rentz is a skilled child visitation lawyer in Pennsylvania and can help parents who want to protect their family’s best interest. For a free consultation, call (610) 645-0100.

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