By: Alexandra Mulé
When the Family Court has to decide issues pertaining to custody and visitation, their main concern is what is in the best interests of the child. This requires the court to weigh a number of factors. Specifically, there is usually a rebuttable presumption that it is in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents. If the Court determines that visitation with the noncustodial parent might harm the child physically or emotionally, then visitation would of course not be in the child’s best interest and the Court would deny such request by the non-custodial parent.
Typically, a Family Court will take into consideration what the child desires depending on their age. If the child is at an age where they can understand their decisions and best interests, the Court may take their opinions and desires strongly into consideration. However, just because a child does not have a strong bond or relationship with the noncustodial parent does not mean that parent will be denied visitation. The wishes of the child are not always dispositive and most certainly are not the only factor the court will consider. Both parents have a right to a relationship with their children so long as the relationship is healthy for the child.