Visitation

 

Initial Determination

In making a determination regarding visitation, the best interest of the child is paramount.  Generally, a normal relationship with both parents is in the childís best interest.  At a minimum, liberal visitation has been defined as at least two weekends per month and five weeks during the summer.  In addition, many courts permit visitation on alternating holidays.              

 

Modification of Visitation

As stated by the Mississippi Supreme Court, modification of visitation is appropriate when "there is a prior decree providing for reasonable visitation rights which isn't working and that it is in the best interests of the children."  Seuss v. Seuss, 718 So.2d 1126, 1130 (Miss. 1998) (citing Cox v. Moulds, 490 So.2d 866, 869 (Miss. 1986)).  Generally, courts do not order supervised visitation.  Courts emphasize the need for a meaningful relationship with both parents.  In order to warrant supervised visitation, an appreciable risk of danger must exist.

 

Rights of Grandparents

Generally, a grandparent may petition for visitation rights in the following circumstances:  (1) the grandparentís child has lost custody of the grandchild; (2) the grandparentís child has had his/her parental rights terminated; or (3) the grandparentís child had died.  Alternatively, a grandparent may petition for visitation rights if a viable relationship exists between the child and the grandparent; however, in order for visitation to be considered, the parent must have unreasonably denied visitation rights, and visitation must be in the best interest of the grandchild.  In order to establish a viable relationship, the grandparent must have either:  (1) voluntarily and in good faith provided financial support in whole or in part for a period of at least six (6) months before filing a petition for visitation rights, or (2) frequently visited with the grandchild for a period of at least one (1) year.                         

                              

The court considers a number of factors when visitation issues involving grandchildren are considered.  The factors are as follows:  (1) amount of disruption extensive visitation will have on grandchildís life, (2) suitability of grandparentsí home with respect to amount of supervision received by grandchild, (3) age of grandchild, (4) age and physical and mental health of grandparents, (5) emotional ties between grandparents and grandchild, (6) moral fitness of grandparents, (7) distance of grandparentsí home from grandchildís home, (8) any undermining of parentís general discipline of grandchild, (9) employment of grandparents and responsibilities associated with it, and (10) willingness of grandparents to accept that rearing of the child is parentsí responsibility and that parentís manner of child rearing is not be interfered with.   

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