Child Visitation Rights
A parent not granted custody of a child is entitled to reasonable visitation rights — unless the Court finds, after a hearing, that visitation would endanger the child’s physical health or impair his or her emotional development. RSMo 452.400(1). As I’ve said previously, it is the public policy of the State of Missouri for children to have frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact with both parents after a divorce.
Because of this legal presumption, if the custodial parent is opposed to the noncustodial parent’s visitation, the custodial parent must prove that visitation is contrary to the child’s best interests. In proving this point, most things which tend to show that it is advantageous for the child to be with one parent versus the other are admissible.
Once a visitation schedule is ordered by the court, all parties must follow it closely. Failure to follow it could result in the filing of a motion of contempt for failing to adhere to a court order.
Unlike with child support and child custody orders, proof of a substantial change in the circumstances is not required to modify or amend a visitation order. Instead, whenever the best interests of the child will be served by a modification of the visitation schedule, a Court will order it after a proper petition.