Non-Parental Visitation, How Does That Work?

March 25, 2015

Visitation with Former Domestic Partners

In awarding visitation to a former cohabitant or partner, courts try to find what is in the best interest of the child. Deciding the best interest of the child is a way that courts assure the child's well-being.


As long as visitation is in the best interests of the child, courts may award visitation to former partners. You usually don't need to show harm to a child if visitation is denied. It may be enough to show the child will miss a parent's ex-partner and feel the loss.


Factors in Awarding Visitation

Key factors courts use when awarding visitation to nonparents:

  • The relationship the partner had with the child over time, and the nature of the bond 

  • Will the visitation impact the parent's custody and discipline of the child?

  • Is visitation in the child's best interest?

Because courts make visitation decisions in the best interests of the child, they may look at the child's wishes. The judge may also ask about the child's life in general, including school, friends, life with the custodial parent and the child's feelings toward the nonparent.



In any case, a person seeking visitation must show they have standing. Standing is a legal rule requiring a person to show they have a stake in the outcome of the case. Some states have low standards such as Washington state where any person can seek visitation. Other states such as Texas have higher standards. There, you must prove you had actual care, control and possession of the child within 90 days of the lawsuit for visitation.


Other relationships come into play in these cases. For example, where a parent dies and the child is either adopted or custody is awarded to family members. The adoptive parents may not be eager to see a parent's former partner awarded visitation with the child. While every state has some form of visitation for nonparents, the extent of the rights varies.


Finding Solutions to Visitation Issues

The entire process can be stressful for children and can drain the family of much needed funds for the child's support. Parents should be ready to discuss fair solutions to visitation disputes involving a former partner or cohabitant and be sure not to disregard what's in the best interest of the child.


Questions for Your Attorney

  • In our state, will I have standing to seek visitation?

  • How can we prove that the best interest of the child is met by awarding visitation to me?

  • How can I prove that I have had an ongoing relationship with the child?

  • How can I prove that I had a close and special relationship with the child's parent, my former partner?


Fanning Law, LLC Can Help

The facts of each case are unique and the laws in each state are different. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. It is not legal advice. For more information about your specific questions, contact Bill Fanning at Fanning Law, LLC - The Offices of William C. Fanning, Jr. - 301.934.3620 or at  


Orginally posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 9:46 AM


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