Family Courts should ban words “Visitation” and “Visits.” Parents should not be visitors

In Rhode Island it is common practice for the RI Family Court and others to use the word “visitation” or “visits” when determining the parenting time for the parent who the child does not reside with. These terms are used in Rhode Island divorce, child custody, paternity, family Law and Visitation cases However, the term “visitation” has very negative and pejorative connotations!

RI family court

Child custody law in RI

Lawyers, litigants and judges often use the terms “visits” and “custody” as part of their daily lexicon in Providence Family Court. These terms create an adversarial environment in Family Court. These terms imply that there is a winner and loser in custodial matters, rather than parents attempting to find a solution that is in the best interest of their children!

Why should a parent be a visitor in their child’s life?

“Parenting time” is a more politically correct term to use over and above visitation. If both parents enjoy parenting time with the child, then neither parent is a loser or a visitor in their child’s life!

Under current Rhode Island family law, one parent has physical placement or physical custody of the child and the other parent has visitation rights. Inmates are in custody! Children reside or live with one parent or the other! It would be much more appropriate for courts and litigants to decide that one parent has residential placement of a child and both parents have parenting time with the child.

Children should be in the “residential placement” with one parent, inmates are the ones in “custody.”

The following objectionable terms are often bandied around in Providence Family Court:

  • “physical custody”,
  • “physical possession”
  • “custody”.

These terms imply that a child is a possession that can be traded or bartered. Courts should award one parent (father or mother) residential placement of the child and then should determine parenting time of both parents!

If the parties have an equal custody arrangement commonly referred to as “shared physical placement” or “shared physical custody” then the proper term should be dual residential placement. A child is not an object to be shared!

Child Custody, Child Support & Visitation

Custody & Parenting Time (Visitation)

Rhode Island Family Court