From Academic Kids

In family law, visitation is an American term for what is called access in Canada and in at least several European countries.

Generally speaking, visitation or access is a privilege granted to a non-custodial parent. It is usually considered a privilege for the parent. Standard visitation in most states consists of alternating week-ends and some holidays.

As a matter of routine in family court before a judge, fathers are awarded, in the United States, four days a month visitation to see their children. If the mother allows, parenting time may increase.

Missing image
Typical initial parenting order reducing father to visitor with standard two days every fourteen time

However, if the child, at or around the age of 13, depending on the state, the child may choose which parent's home to live without government interference.

A fathers' rights and men's rights movement is set to change this arrangement to equal, 50/50 shared parenting. For example, leadership is shown from groups like Fathers 4 Justice, American Coalition for Fathers and Children (ACFC) (, Alliance for Non-Custodial Parents Rights (ANCPR) (, and National Congress for Fathers and Children (NCFC) ( Bob Geldof, of Boom Town Rats, Band Aid, and Live Aid fame, leads the movement in the United Kingtom with Parents 4 Protest ( and The Sun's Justice 4 Dads ( campaign.

Visitation is an archaic term that is gradually being replaced with parenting time. There is a growing reform movement in the United States to eliminate the concept of custody and replace it with the presumption of 50-50 parenting time, thus treating the father and mother as equal parents of the child(ren).

Parents (and in some jurisdictions grand-parents) frequently believe that they have a right to visitation or access; however, courts in several countries have used the subjective doctrine of the best interests of the child to deny parental or grandparental access to the child(ren). This is commonly found in cases when custody of the child(ren) is disputed and there is a history of interferrence with visitation. In such high conflict cases, there are often allegation of child abuse and/or domestic violence.

In high conflict cases, visitation may be supervised by a social worker, psychologist, guardian ad litem, or other third party while the non-custodial parent visits with the child.

Many noncustodial parents have visitation orders that allow the child to visit with them without any supervision. These visits often take place away from the custodial residence. Often the non-custodial parent is granted overnight visitation, weekend visitation, or vacation visitation.

Parents may also share custody and may agree to allow visitation. In these situations a court order may not be needed, though sometimes it is obtained to forstall later disputes about what the parents had previously agreed to, and to allow the courts to have some oversight over the children (which they normally have under statute and under the parens patriae power).

A recent legal and political trend has developed in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western countries, known as 50-50 parenting. Under this system, there is no legal determination of custody and the rights of both parents to equal time with their child(ren) (and vice versa) are protected.


Legal aspects


In Japan, there is no legal guarantee of visitation by a non-custodial parent. Despite this, courts do often grant visitation rights to a non-custodial parent of a divorce, or to the father of an unwed child, who by law is declared non-custodial by default. However, these court ordered visitations are often only for several hours once a month, and in some cases, only once a year. Further, courts will not enforce these visitation provisions when the custodial parent is not cooperative. Several groups are working to change related laws and provide more detailed information on these laws and alternatives:

 The Children's Rights Network of Japan (English) (
 The Fathers' Website (Japanese) (

Other usages of the word

In English history, a visitation was an official visit, usually for purposes of inspection, and the record of that visit. Visitations were made to establish the right of a person to bear arms, and are used today in genealogical research. These visit are usually titled according to the year they were made (e.g. Visitation of 1345), and the genealogical information contained in them is often erroneous.

The Visitation is a Catholic feast day (2 July) commemorating the visit of the Virgin Mary to Elizabeth as recorded in the Gospel of Luke.

In the United States and Canada, a visitation is a funeral custom where a mourner visits the deceased person's family and views the body lying in the casket, either at a funeral home or church.

Further Reading

  • The Fathers' Crusade ( The New York Times, May 8, 2005

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