If you, as a mother or father, have ever been denied access to your child, that may not be as bad as the fact that your child was denied access to their parent, which may be one of the most horrific forms of abuse to a child.
In family law, contact (or in the United States, visitation) is one of the general terms which denotes the level of contact a parent or other significant person in a child’s life can have with that child. Contact forms part of the bundle of rights and privileges which a parent may have in relation to any child of the family.
In most jurisdictions, the nature of a couple’s relationship changes when a child is born to that relationship. In law, there may be differences in the consequences depending on whether the relationship is opposite-sex or same-sex, and whether it is a marriage, a civil union or registered partnership, or cohabitation (sometimes amounting to a common law marriage in some jurisdictions). All children are, to a greater or lesser extent, subject to the authority of their parents during the early years of their life, during what is termed their minority.
States impose a range of incapacities until the children reach an age when they are deemed sufficiently mature to take responsibility for their own actions. Issues of access and custody interact and overlap, and represent all of the aspects of care and control that parents may exercise in relation to their children. The extent to which the courts have jurisdiction to regulate access will depend on the nature of the parents’ relationship. In the event of a marriage, the courts may adjust access rights as an aspect of proceedings for legal separation, annulment or divorce. In the event of other relationships, jurisdiction may be invoked by either spouse, partner, natural parent (which may sometimes include fathers from unlawful sexual relationships), adoptive parent, legal guardian or by a guardian ad litem appointed to represent any child’s interests.
The custodial parent is that parent with whom the children are staying in the majority of the time. This term started to be used in the implementation of the joint custody since both parents have the custody of the child but, usually, the child lives in the house of one of them the majority of his or her time.
The non-custodial parent is that parent that has been granted with the child custody but only accommodates the child in their house for limited periods of time.