In California and around the country, a fixed visitation schedule is often ordered by judges as part of a divorce decree if they believe the estranged parents cannot cooperate in making their own visitation schedules. In such an event, the judge will make the schedule for them. The judge may also decide where the visitation will take place.
However, when judges in a child custody case authorize reasonable visitation rights, they are inclined to believe that the parents can effectively communicate and make their own schedules. Parents with primary physical custody usually have most of the control over what is considered reasonable. If they are being purposefully uncooperative, then this could be held against them in later court proceedings.
Grandparents are allowed to request visitation rights in all states, but parents have a great deal of influence on the limits of this. The laws governing grandparent visitation vary from state to state with regards to whether or not it will be granted. Most states are lenient with these laws, but a minority only allow it if one of the parents is not alive or other specific circumstances. If a parent tries to limit the grandparents’ visitation rights without good reason, such as abuse or manipulation, the judge will probably rule in favor of the grandparents. In many cases, mediation may be appropriate.
Child custody disputes are often a very difficult and emotional part of divorce proceedings. While many estranged parents look at them as battles to be won or lost, family law attorneys will remind their clients that the paramount consideration should always be the best interests of the child.