Visitation rights can potentially be a contentious issue. Losing the right to having full access to your children can make for a difficult experience for many people. However, equally parents can be concerned what can happen when children are not around during this time. This is why it is important to be aware of the legal issues surrounding visitation rights.

You need to respect custody

Whether or not you reach an agreement with your partner, it is vital to respect the wishes of the Court – defying a written order can have serious legal consequences.

A contact order may not always be necessary – parents can often come up with a schedule and a system with which a parent can agree for their former partner to have access to their children. This is often preferable as the agreement allows something specifically suited to your circumstances. However, if parents cannot come to an arrangement then this becomes a legal matter and the courts have to get involved, resulting in a contact order to establish the access parents have to their children.

Before this order is made, Courts will take into account factors such as the needs of the children, any potential risk of harm and whether a parent is capable of looking after the child.

To use an extreme example – if a parent lived on a building site and there was little security then a court would decide this would be potentially dangerous and not allow the child to visit the parent at their building site home.

However, it is about context – if parents can provide for their children during a visit and there is no risk of harm to the children then something can usually be arranged.



One issue you need to be aware of is holidays. You should not take your children out of the country without prior permission. While this is not necessarily an issue it needs to be clarified first and written permission needs to be granted.


Legal responsibility 

As a parent you have responsibility in legal, financial and emotional terms. In the Courts there is the idea of a “presumption of contact.” Generally speaking mothers will have priority in terms of where children live (unless there are circumstances that can prove this would not be appropriate).

This means you have the rights to visiting your child. However, this also means you have a responsibility to ensure your child is properly looked after during these visits. Furthermore you have to make sure they are supported between visits.



Of course sometimes it is not always easy to reach agreements. This is where legal representatives can help – they can look into the various issues around visitation and consider what is appropriate.

Most importantly you need to consider the needs of your children. What people often misunderstand is that legal representatives do care and want to make sure that the needs of the parents are balanced out with that of the children. In short, if you are concerned talk to us about how to produce a fairer visitation agreement. Contact us today for this and more information on various family law issues.