In Mississippi, "visitation" is the time a child spends with a noncustodial parent and is a very important subject for many parents involved in divorce or custody cases. For example, a parent who is not awarded sole or joint physical custody of his or her child still wants to be an important part of the child's life and spend as much time with that child as possible. Visitation should allow continued significant contact with the child under circumstances that foster a close relationship and bond.
In Mississippi, a noncustodial parent will normally be allowed visitation with his or her child. Absent danger or other potential detriment to the child, the chancery court will normally award "standard" or "liberal" unrestricted overnight visitation to a noncustodial parent. In Mississippi, this is two (2) weekends a month until Sunday afternoon, at least five weeks of summer visitation, and alternating holiday visitation. More or less may be awarded depending on the specific facts of the case. For example, the existence of unusual work schedules, extreme geographical distance between households or disruption to a child's routine may justify deviation from standard visitation.
It is important to remember that an Order or Agreement providing for visitation should be highly structured, clearly specifying all dates of visitation, the exact times of transfer and other arrangements including which party is to bear the cost of transportation for visitation. Ambiguous visitation provisions should be carefully avoided as they routinely result in continuing post-divorce litigation.
M. Devin Whitt is a family law litigation attorney who practices in courts primarily in the greater Jackson, Mississippi area of Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties. Should you have any questions regarding a visitation or other family law matter, please feel free to contact his office at 601.607.5055 to discuss your case.