With today's changing family dynamics, many family members turn to the courts to ensure visitation time with children. The first step to securing your visitation rights is to write a visitation petition for the courts. This may sound daunting, but it easy to do.
Writing a Visitation Petition
Identify yourself and state your relationship to the children involved in the petition. In most states, only parents have a guaranteed right to visitation, but other interested parties can also file for court-ordered visitation.
List the names, ages and birthdates of all children for whom you are seeking visitation.
Tell the court why you are seeking visitation. If you are a grandparent or other interested adult who has recently been excluded from a child's life, make sure to give the court a history of your past relationship, including any emotional, physical or financial support that the child has received as a result of your relationship. Attach any documentation, like school tuition receipts or doctor bills, that you have.
List any benefits that you feel the child would gain from regular visitation. Also list any negative consequences that the child could suffer from if visitation is not granted. Benefits and consequences should be spelled out and documented as much as possible.
Don't let emotion creep into your visitation petition. Child visitation hearings can evoke strong emotions, but courts are only looking at the facts in each case. The more emotional you are, the less effective your visitation petition will be.
Don't use the visitation to make derogatory statements about a custodial parent. If you feel a parent or guardian is unfit, there are other legal avenues to pursue. A visitation petition is not the place to bring up these issues.
- Always type your petition and print it on heavy paper. Handwritten petitions look sloppy and are not taken as seriously. If you can't type or don't have access to a computer, ask for help at your local library.
- Proofread your petition and make sure everything is spelled correctly and that there are no major grammar errors. Have someone else look over your petition as well. A second pair of eyes can spot things you may have missed.
- Make two extra copies of your petition. You should have one in a lock box or other secure location. Keep the other easily accessible.
- Sign your petition in blue or black ink.
- Make copies of any documentation and attach them to your petition.