If you share custody of a child and the child is hospitalized for weeks, what are your rights as the non-residential parent as far as staying with the child in hospital?

UPDATED: Nov 28, 2011

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If you share custody of a child and the child is hospitalized for weeks, what are your rights as the non-residential parent as far as staying with the child in hospital?

Can you stay even on days that are not your visiting days?

Asked on November 28, 2011 under Family Law, New Jersey


L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding child visitation and your child’s hospitalization.  Child custody and child visitation can vary from state to state, and even within the state parameters, each situation is different, and the court will assess each specific circumstance.  That being said, the court will always decide child custody and child visitation based on the best interest of the child. 

Generally speaking, if the court has ordered visitation on specific days then you need to stick to the schedule that the court has assigned.  Do parents often switch days and maybe swap days depending on their own schedules? Yes, it happens all the time.  Do parents get in arguments if the other parent is five minutes late for their schedule pick up time? Yes, it happens all the time.  The answer as to whether you can extend your visitation since your child is in the hospital truly depends on your situation.  If your child’s other parent is okay with you visiting with your child given the circumstance, then the court will not take issue with it either.  However, if you are intruding on your child’s other parent’s time with the child while the child is hospitalized, in turn, possibly causing more stress to an already stressful situation, then the court is likely to not appreciate your violation of the court’s order.

While you may see this hospitalization as justification for not complying with the court’s order, your situation may not allow for such non-compliance.  In an ideal situation would it be best if the child could have both parents around while they were hospitalized, well, probably.  But this would only be the case if the parents weren’t arguing.  If the other party to the child custody agreement is not okay with your violation of the agreement, you may want to reconsider not complying, because you could be held in contempt.


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