When a family splits up through divorce, custody of the children is given to one parent or both. If a parent doesn’t get joint custody of his or her children, the parent usually gets visitation rights and may want to request regular visitation times.
Even though the visitation schedule may be fair, there are times when one parent or the other may not comply. A child visitation letter can be sent to establish the non-custodial parent’s visitation schedule and how the visitation will proceed.
A child visitation letter can be sent if:
- One parent has visitation rights and wants to plan a get-together
- The custodial parent isn’t following the rules that were established by the court and the other parent needs to formally tell them
- The child has moved out of state and a new visitation order is necessary
A visitation letter intended to plan a get-together should include the following information:
- The time and date of the child’s visit
- How the parent will get the child
- Where the visit will take place, for example, if the child will stay in the parent’s home or if they will visit a theme park or take a vacation together
- Details about the pick-up time and place as well as the return time and place if it is not designated in the child custody order.
- A description of any special activities that the other parent should know about
Child Custody Laws
If a parent wants to write a letter to the court, a different form should be followed. The child custody laws in most states are intended to shield the child from parental conflict. To achieve this, both parents must follow certain procedures if they want to modify a visitation schedule.
In some states, once the visitation schedule is finalized by the court, it cannot be legally changed with a letter. Both parties need to agree to have it changed, and the judge must issue a new visitation order.
If one parent wants to legally change the visitation agreement, they need to prove to the court that the change is in the best interest of the child. In some states, the judge may appoint psychologists and child experts to determine if the change is in the child’s best interest.
Parents who agree can write their own visitation rights document and submit it to the court.
The main reasons for changing a visitation rights document is because of a change in the child’s circumstances such as a parent’s new job, a developmental change in the child or a change in the child’s relationship with one parent. The court will be more likely to order a change if an expert recommends it.
If the letter is to the court, it should include the case number as well as proof that the other party received the letter. A letter to the court may be necessary if one parent doesn’t follow the rules of the visitation rights.
For example, if the parent is instructed in the visitation order to pick up the child at a specific time, and he or she is always late causing emotional distress to the child and inconvenience to the custodial parent, a letter can be sent to the court to have the visitation rules changed or to inform the court that the rules are not being followed.
Before Sending A Letter To The Court
Before sending a letter to the court, the parent should keep any documents or proof of the denial of visitation. This may include emails and text messages that deny the parent visitation. They may even need to record conversations in which they are denied visitation.
Here is a sample child visitation letter. This is not a legal document, but rather a letter to a custodial parent requesting a special visitation time. It should be written in formal business style and sent by certified mail at least two weeks before the designated visitation time.
Sample Child Visitation Letter
City, State, Zip Code
May 22, 2021
Custodial Parent’s Name
Custodial Parent’s Address
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Name of Custodial Parent,
This letter is to inform you that I will be picking up NAME OF CHILD at YOUR HOME as stated in the above address at TIME on DATE.
I plan to take NAME OF CHILD to Disneyland for two days and stay in the NAME OF HOTEL. I will return her to your home at TIME on DATE.
Kindly make sure NAME OF CHILD has the appropriate change of clothing and healthcare items including any required medication. I can be reached at all times at my mobile phone NUMBER.
If there are any unforeseen events or an emergency, I will call NAME OF PERSON at NUMBER or NAME OF PERSON at NUMBER.
You can contact me if you have any questions or special instructions.