There is no question that a divorce case in Washington, DC can become a lot more complex and contentious if there are children involved. Additionally, there are many cases in which the parties have one or more children together and are not married, or have never been married to each other. If the parties are married, then we typically file a divorce action at the same time as the child custody and visitation case and have them consolidated.
In Washington, DC, the court has what is known as the one family, one judge rule, so there will only be one judge deciding all of the important issues in a case. Technically, child support matters are often heard before a magistrate instead of an associate judge, but your Maryland child custody and visitation attorney can request that the matters be consolidated before a single associate judge.
While we often use the terms custody and visitation to mean the same thing, generally speaking, when party has sole or primary physical custody of a minor child, the other party will get to see that child most commonly on a set schedule for visitation. It should be noted that visits could be as short as a few minutes or weeks long, depending on the agreement of the parties and the order of the court.
Types of Child Visitation in Washington, DC:
There are basically two types of visitation used in Washington, DC child custody and visitation cases. The first type of visitation available is known as unsupervised visitation. Unsupervised visitation is the general preference of the court and is what is ordered in the vast majority of cases.
With unsupervised visitation, as the name implies, the non-custodial spouse will be able to visit with his or her child without the supervision of the court, the other parent, or any other supervision. This can include visits outside of the home as well as in-home visits and can also include overnight visitation. The only requirement is that the party has taken what is known as PAC class. This PAC class is a parenting class formally known as the Program for Agreement and Cooperation and is administered at the DC Superior Court building at least once a month, typically on a Saturday. Once you complete the PAC course, you will have a certificate that your experienced Washington DC child custody lawyer can present to the court or prove your compliance. Even the custodial parent will be required to take a PAC course.
While this is not the first choice for courts in most cases, supervised visitation is appropriate in some cases. This is used when one parent is feared to be a danger to the child, and it would be safer to have all visits conducted under supervision. In many cases, supervision will take place at the supervised visitation center run by the family court, but if the parties can afford it, a private supervision facility may be used instead of the center provided by the court. While the court center is free, it is not necessarily as nice as the private options available.
If there an allegation that one party has physically abused or sexually abused a child or allowed someone with whom they associate to harm the child, the court may have no choice but to order supervised visitation.
If you need assistance with a divorce case or any other family law matter in the District of Columbia or Maryland, please contact the Law Offices of Daniel A. Gross for a consultation.