District of ColumbiaChild Visitation Laws
District of Columbia Child Custody Guide :: Table of Contents
Visitation General Information
What is child visitation?In the context of a child custody case, visitation is defined as the rights for a non-custodial parent to see their child, or as temporary custody that's been granted for a period of time to an otherwise non-custodial parent or relative.
In general, courts in District of Columbia assume that it is beneficial for both biological parents of a child to have shared custody or visitation, unless it is shown to be against the child's best interests. A biological parent who is denied custody may be awarded visitation rights to provide for a relationship between the parent and child.
Visitation by grandparents, family members, or other third-parties is less clear cut in District of Columbia, and nationwide. While there are state guidelines regarding third-party visitation in certain situations, these laws are frequently challenged.
Above all else, courts in District of Columbia strive to make custody and visitation decisions that are "in the best interests of the child". The court handling each individual visitation case has significant flexibility in determining what arrangement is in the child's best interests. You can read about District of Columbia's visitation guildelines on this page.
District of Columbia Visitation Court Considerations Table
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District of Columbia Child Visitation Summary
Under District of Columbia law, a biological parent of a minor child may request visitation rights as a stand-alone petition presented to the court or as part of an open divorce, parentage or custody case.
When reviewing a request for visitation, the court will base their decision on whether granting a parent visitation would be in the "best interests of the child." What constitutes the "best interests of the child" can depend on a number of factors which include: the wishes of the child's parent or parents; the wishes of the child; the child's adjustment to his or her home, school and community; and the mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
Grandparents are allowed visitation, however, they may only obtain visitation rights if it is in the "best interests of the child." This Consideration will look particularly close at the previous relationship between the child and his or her grandparents.
District of Columbia Child Visitation For Grandparents, Relatives, and Third Parties
In the District of Columbia, there are a number of laws regarding child visitation regarding visitation for third-parties other than the biological parents of the child. While state laws regarding third-party visitation have been frequently been challenged in courts, they are a good indication of District of Columbia's positions regarding non-parental visitation rights.
Visitation Rights Of Grandparents In District of Columbia:
District of Columbia has special statutes regarding the child visitiation rights of grandparents under different circumstances. Under state law, the grandparents of children may obtain visitation while the parents are alive, regardless of the parent's marital status.
Regardless of state presumptions regarding grandparent's visitation rights under specific circumstances, a District of Columbia court may allow or prevent visitation rights in any situation based on the best interests of the child.
Visitation Rights Of Other Parties In District of Columbia:
Are step-parents granted visitation rights in the District of Columbia?
Generally it is an uphill battle for step-parents seeking visitation rights for a step-child, especially if the biological parents of the child are alive and are opposed to the visitation.
The District of Columbia does not have any laws that grant child visitation rights to step-parents, which may make applying for visitation significantly harder. In all cases, third-party visitation rights are more likely to be granted by the court if they are deemed to be in the best interests of the child.
Can other interested parties or relatives be granted visitation rights to a child in District of Columbia?
Under District of Columbia law, it is not generally possible for any other interested party other than those specified to be granted child visitation rights. In rare cases this may be overruled by the court.
Can parents be granted visitation rights after termination of parental rights or adoption in District of Columbia?
In the District of Columbia it may not be possible to be granted visitation rights after losing parental rights or giving up a child for adoption. This is the case with both biological parents and previous guardians.