New Delhi High Court Decodes Overnight Visitation Rights for Fathers

A child with father. Text overlay says "Overnight Visitation Rights for Fathers"

In a groundbreaking judgment, the Delhi High Court recently ruled on a crucial matter related to overnight visitation rights for fathers, emphasizing the child’s welfare over parental conflicts. The case, registered as MAT.APP.(F.C.) 47/2023, involved an appeal under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act, 1984.


The legal saga began with the matrimonial disputes between the parties who got married on May 11, 2006. The couple’s only son was born on May 2, 2007. After three years of marriage, the parties separated in 2009, with the custody of the child remaining with the mother.

The Guardianship Petition

The father, dissatisfied with the arrangement, filed a Guardianship Petition, claiming that the mother was unfit to care for the child due to alleged psychological instability. The legal battle ensued, with both parties presenting their arguments before the Family Court.

The Family Court Decision

The Family Court, in its judgment on September 22, 2022, declared both parents as joint guardians, maintaining custody with the mother and granting overnight visitation rights to the father. The decision of grating overnight visitation right to the father triggered the mother’s appeal before the Hon’ble Delhi High court.

Grounds of Appeal Before High Court

The mother argued that the court failed to consider critical incidents, including an episode on August 15, 2016, where the father allegedly endangered the child’s safety. An FIR was filed, and the incident led to the recall of a prior visitation order.

High Court's Observations

The High Court, after a meticulous examination of the facts, emphasized the child’s paramount interest. It noted the child’s clear disinclination to live with the father during interactions with the court.

Court's Decision: Overnight Visitation Rights Denied

In light of the child’s physical and mental well-being, a significant modification has been made to the custody arrangements. The profound alienation experienced by the child over the past 14 years, coupled with reservations about staying overnight with the father, prompted the court to reconsider the existing visitation rights.

The court, acknowledging the sensitivity of the matter, decided against compelling the child to stay overnight with the respondent/father, even on a monthly basis. Instead, a thoughtful adjustment has been made to the custody and visitation rights:

  1. The appellant/mother is directed to facilitate meetings at the Family Court on the first and third Saturday of each month, from 02:00 to 05:00 P.M. If a Saturday falls on a holiday, arrangements will be made for the following Saturday or another mutually convenient date.

  2. To maintain consistent contact, the respondent/father is granted permission to talk to the child on the mobile phone at least once a week, with the timing adjusted to the child’s convenience.

  3. These modifications will persist until the child reaches the age of majority, ensuring stability and a clear timeframe for the adjusted arrangements.


The Delhi High Court’s judgment sets a precedent in prioritizing a child’s well-being in custody battles. It serves as a reminder that even financial stability may not be the sole determinant in such cases. This decision could have far-reaching implications for future custody disputes.

Download Judgment

Click above to download this Judgment in the case titled MAT.APP.(F.C.) 47/2023. It can serve as a valuable resource for legal reference.

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