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D.C. Child Visitation Rights

When you're a noncustodial parent, you still have the right to spend time with your children even though they don't live with you most of the time. The time spent with them is referred to as "parenting time" in some states, but D.C. uses the terms "visitation" or "access."

Although you're entitled to spend time developing a meaningful relationship with your child, this right to parental visitation isn't absolute; if you engage in specific behavior, your visitations rights may be restricted to supervised visitations or denied completely in rare cases. .

D.C. Child Visitation Rights at a Glance

Even after reading the relevant statutes, it's often difficult to understand the exact meaning of the law. Use the chart below for clear introductory information about child visitation rights in the District of Columbia.


District of Columbia Code Division II. Judiciary and Judicial Procedure:

  • Section 16-914 (custody of children)
  • Section 16-914.02 (visitation rights of parents/military deployment)

Limitations on Parental Visitation Rights

A parent's access to their child is denied if that parent has been convicted of first degree sexual abuse, second degree sexual abuse, or child sexual abuse, and the child was conceived because of that violation.

Grandparent Rights

Although the District of Columbia doesn't have any specific statutes that grant grandparents the right to go to court to obtain child visitation rights, grandparents (or other interested third parties) may file a petition for visitation.

D.C. courts rely on case law to determine the scope of grandparents' visitation rights. There's a rebuttable presumption that parents are "fit" to make decisions about visitation and that parents act in their child's best interests, even if that includes prohibiting grandparent visitation.

Visitation Rights of Parents During Military Deployment

A deploying parent may file a motion with the court to request an expedited hearing to obtain a child visitation order when there isn't an existing order.

A deploying parent (or a non-deploying parent where the other parent is currently on deployment or has an order) may file a motion to request a temporary visitation order modifying the terms of an existing order.

A temporary order will state the following:

  • That the basis of the order is the deployment of a military parent; and
  • That the temporary order will terminate and the permanent order will resume within 10 days after notice of the deploying parent's ability to resume visitation unless the court finds that resumption of the visitation order in effect before the deployment is no longer in the child's best interest.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

D.C. Child Visitation Rights: Related Resources

Connect with a Custody Attorney About Visitation Rights in D.C.

As a parent you're entitled to certain visitation rights and it's important to know where you stand. If you have questions about modifying your parenting plan or have other concerns about D.C. child visitation rights issues, then contact an experienced child custody attorney right away.

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