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I. A. Generally

Visitation generally is the right of a parent to visit with that parent's minor child. The minor child can be a natural child or an adoptive child. Visitation is awarded by a court. In Tennessee, the Circuit, Chancery, or Juvenile Court can award visitation.

Supervised visitation is visitation with a child under the supervision of a third party.

Unsupervised visitation is visitation without supervisory persons.

To understand visitation, please read our section on Custody.

B. Contested versus Uncontested

Visitation litigation is uncontested if all parties consent to the change in visitation, and there are no terms or issues in dispute.

Visitation litigation is contested if the parties cannot agree on every term or issue regarding the visitation schedule with the child. Contested visitation determinations usually center around whether a parent is an unfit person to have unsupervised visitation with the child, or what the visitation schedule will be and who will pay for it if a party moves out of town. The Court is to determine what is in the best interest of the child.

Call 901-757-5557 for a free appointment to discuss your situation.

II. Rights
A. Child

The Judge must do what the Judge feels is in the best interest of the child.

B. Unmarried parents

A father who has not married the mother may still obtain visitation with a minor child, but only after legitimating the child. This is usually done through the Juvenile Court. Payment of child support, maintenance of life and health insurance and an award of custody generally are ordered at the same time, along with the changing of the child's name. All, however, are under the Court's Order.

C. Grandparents

Grandparents do not always lose their rights in a custody dispute. However, they may lose their rights. Further, there is a statute to help preserve their visitation rights.

D. The Non Custodial Parent

This parent has the right to obtain visitation rights. These rights may be set with specific days and times, or they may be general such as "reasonable" or "liberal." "Reasonable" means upon reasonable notice, and no less than every other weekend, alternate holidays, and 2 to 6 weeks in the summer. "Liberal" means any time the non custodial parent wants to see the child upon short notice. Specific visitation is generally recommended as it leads to fewer disputes. Further, the Courts, having seen the results of child rearing without one of the natural parents, are requiring more time with the non custodial parent. It is now understood that BOTH natural parents need to be part of a child's life. The child can observe each parent's behavior and decide which is more appropriate and which is to be emulated. Without such observation, the child forms a "rosy" image of the non custodial parent, and cannot make a reasonable assessment. The Courts very much frown on the parent who wants to cut off the other parent, and "raise the child without the other parent."

III. Procedure
If the agreement to change visitation is uncontested, the parties can have the lawyer prepare a Consent Order, the parties can sign it, and the lawyer can have the Judge sign it.

If the visitation is disputed, and is not part of a divorce case, a petition must be filed with the Court and the opposing party served.

The case then proceeds like any other litigation: written questions are exchanged, documents are exchanged, depositions are taken, psychologists may be involved to evaluate the parties, motions are filed and argued, and a trial is held.

The Court will eventually make a decision and a written Order is signed by the Court specifying the rights of the parties.

IV. Fees
Uncontested visitation:

$750.00 to $1,500.00 plus expenses and filing fees of $395.00.

Contested visitation:

*$5,000.00 retainer against an hourly fee of $250.00 per Hour, plus filing fees and expenses of $350.00.

Once the retainer is used, the client is billed on a Monthly basis for accumulated fees and costs.

* Retainers and hourly fees are less for associate lawyers in the Firm than for partners or principal lawyers in the Firm.

Filing fees are what the Court Clerk charges to file the Petition for custody with the Court.

Any additional Court costs are assessed to the losing party ( or the winning Party in an uncontested matter) and billed.

Call 901-757-5557 for a free appointment to discuss your situation.

Main Office: 12830 Hillcrest #D-111 Dallas, Texas. 75230 Telephone: 972-994-9393

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