Family Law Lawyer
When you haven’t seen your child in years and want to renew the parent-child relationship, there are some factors to keep in mind. Whether or not you can gain visitation rights may depend on the reasons why you’ve been absent from your child’s life for such a long time.
In general, courts strongly prefer that a child maintain a loving relationship with both parents after a divorce, and will do everything possible to make this happen. They must also, however, always put the child’s best interests above everything else when determining custody and visitation. Consequently, you should hire an experienced local child custody lawyer. Doing so can help you make the best case possible to the judge as to why you should be given visitation privileges, even though you have not exercised them in the past.
Another factor to keep in mind is that while visitation privileges technically aren’t tied to child support payments, you will probably stand a much better chance of a judge granting you visitation if you’re up to date on your child support.
Likely Visitation Considerations
Given the length of time you’ve been absent from your child’s life, the court undoubtedly will want to know the reasons and causes for your absence. Some questions they may ask include:
- Have you been living out of the country?
- Have you been incarcerated?
- Have you been hospitalized or undergoing treatment for a physical or mental condition?
- Have you eliminated any drug or alcohol addictions you may have had in the past?
- Have you upgraded your living conditions so that they’re now suitable for having your child in your home?
- Has your former spouse prevented you from seeing your child in the past?
If the court determines that it’s in the best interests of your child to reestablish visitation, it might require that the visitation be supervised at first. This can especially be the case if you have been incarcerated or under the care of a physician or other health care professional. Supervised visitation means that you’re required to visit your child in the presence of a qualified adult, such as a child psychologist or social worker as well as in a location of his or her choosing. These visits are meant to ensure that you can reestablish your parental relationship with your child without putting him or her in any physical or emotional danger or stress.
Obtaining Legal Help
As with any issue pertaining to your child, your best strategy when seeking to reestablish a relationship with your child after a long absence is to hire an experienced local child custody lawyer to represent you. He or she can guide you through whatever legal process best suits your particular situation.