Rethinking Visitation: From a Parental to a Relational Right
36 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2007 Last revised: 11 Feb 2014
Date Written: March 1, 2007
The article proposes a new understanding of the right to visitation that challenges the common understanding of the right to visitation as a parental right and as an integral component of the cluster of rights associated with parental status. Instead, it suggests that visitation be understood as an independent right based on relational values. Understanding visitation as a parental right marginalizes relational values and thwarts the development of a coherent theory of visitation. The absence of such a theory could account for the perplexity plaguing visitation issues. Detaching visitation from the cluster of rights associated with parental status and constructing it as an independent relational right enables us to develop a theory of visitation that places questions pertaining to visitation with children within an adequate conceptual framework. This detachment will transform not only the right to visitation but legal parenthood itself, strengthening the tie between rights considered parental and day-to-day child rearing. Furthermore, it will enable recognition of visitation rights for non-parents, while also preserving the principle of exclusive parental authority.
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