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Visitation is an Americann term for what is called access in Canada and in at least several European countries. Generally speaking visitation or access is the family law concept of the privilege granted to a non-custodial parent, considered to be a short-term form of custody in which the parent has time in which the child can develop a better relationship with the parent. It is usually considered a privilege for the parent.

Parents (and in some jurisdictions grand-parents) frequently believe that they have a right to visitation or access; however, courts in several countries have held that this privilege is determined by what is in the best interests of the child and promotes healthy development of the child — except in the case of a parent who has severe psychological problems that may prohibit him or her from having an ongoing relationship with their child.

Visitation may be supervised, i.e., there may be a social worker, psychologist or other neutral third party present while the non-custodial parent visits with the child to insure that there is no child abuse or offensive behavior on the part of the parent.

Most parents have visitation orderss that allow the child to visit with them without any supervision, often away from the custodial residence without the permission of the custodial parent often the non-custodial parent is granted overnight visitation, weekend visitation or vacation visitation.

Parents may also share custody and may agree to allow visitation in these situations a court order may not be needed, though sometimes it is obtained to forstall later disputes about what the parents had previously agreed to and to allow the courts to have some oversight over the children which they normally have under statute and under the parens patriae power.