Step-up visitation allows a child to become more familiar with a parent she does not know well, or it allows an increase in visitation as the child gets older. A court often uses this type of plan with a young child, especially an infant, when one parent must meet specific guidelines before getting more visitation or when the parents were not married and the child has not spent much time with the other parent.
First Steps to a Step-up Visitation Plan
The early stages of step-up visitation rights are dictated by the age of the child under the circumstances behind this type of visitation. If the child is an infant or very young child, the non-custodial parent gets several shorter periods of visitation during the week, especially if the custodial parent is the mother and she is breastfeeding the child. If the child is older or there has been abuse involved, the court may begin with supervised visitation to allow the child to get to know his other parent without being left alone with that parent.
Once the time period that is assigned to the early stages is completed, the next step then begins. This time period may be directly related to the age of the child or it may be connected to actions taken by the non-custodial parent. As long as the appropriate amount of time has passed or the appropriate actions have been taken, the custodial parent has no right to deny the next stage of visitation to the non-custodial parent.
Complying with the Step-Up Visitation Plan
It is important that both parents comply with the visitation plan. If one parent does not wish to continue with the “step-up plan” because of concerns regarding the best interest of the children, the parent must request a court hearing in an attempt to modify the plan.
At this court hearing, the court will look at the progress made by the non-custodial parent and whether the child is bonding with the parent. In most cases, if the non-custodial parent has been exercising their visitation on a regular basis while complying with the other requirements established by the court (e.g., counseling, not consuming alcoholic beverages within 24 hours of a visit with the child, etc.), the court is likely to rule that the step-up visitation plan will remain in effect.
Many experts believe that it is important for young children to develop an attachment to a primary caretaker and recommend frequent but non-overnight visitation with the non-custodial parent for short periods of time. As the children grow older and are better able to develop multiple attachments, longer periods of continuous and overnight visitation is encouraged.
In order for infants and toddlers to develop secure attachments to their parents, it is critically important that the separation time from the mother and father be small to minimize anxiety, keep attachments secure, and keep the child comfortable with both parents. Infants and toddlers have difficulty conceptualizing time and need frequent and continuing contact with a predictable pattern. A “step-up plan” can be a valuable tool in implementing a visitation plan that takes into account situations where there has been little visitation in the past with one parent.
Call the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
The law firm of Wallin & Klarich has experienced and caring lawyers who have success in obtaining “step-up plans” in situations where a parent desires more time with his/her children.
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Sherman Oaks and San Diego, our family law lawyers are available wherever you are located.
Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for immediate help. We will be there when you call.
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