The Rules for Denying Visitation
Roughly 13.4 million parents in the U.S. are now living with at least one child involved in some kind of official or unofficial custody arrangement. In all 50 states, the best interests of the child outweigh the needs or desires of the parent in these cases. Therefore, it’s possible to deny visitation or other forms of contact unilaterally.
Is the Child In Immediate Danger?
The first question that you should ask is whether a child is in immediate danger of being physically, emotionally or sexually abused. If the answer is yes, a judge will likely overlook the fact that you defied a court order. Evidence that a child could be harmed may include threatening text messages, letters sent in the mail or statements made to you or your child.
If you see bruises or other suspicious marks, it could be evidence of ongoing abuse that you generally have a right to put a quick end to. It may also be a good idea to bring evidence that your son or daughter has seen a doctor or therapist as a result of the other parent’s actions.
Is Your Child Showing Signs of Emotional Distress?
Generally speaking, your child doesn’t have to go anywhere with the other parent if he or she doesn’t want to. Therefore, if your child is crying, not sleeping or displaying other signs of emotional disturbance, you can postpone a visitation session. Furthermore, it may be possible to put a temporary end to phone calls, video chats or other methods that a parent may have to communicate with the child.
The Police May Be Willing to Intervene
If your former partner becomes verbally or physically abusive after learning that you’re not going to comply with a visitation order, it might be a good idea to call the police. A police officer will likely ensure that the potentially abusive parent is not allowed to see or speak with the child until the matter can be resolved. Ideally, you won’t do anything to provoke the other parent as that could result in charges being filed against you.
You Could Risk Being Held in Contempt
It is critical that you have a valid reason for not allowing your child’s other parent to have visitation time. This is because defying an order for a frivolous reason could be seen as being in contempt of court. If possible, try resolving your issues with the other parent before taking a matter to court or into your own hands. If a judge believes that you’re taking steps to interfere in the relationship between your child and the noncustodial parent, you could risk losing custody.
Supervised Visitation Is Another Option
If you truly think that your child is in danger while with his or her other parent, it may be possible to come up with a compromise. Often, a judge will order that a noncustodial parent get supervised visitation with a son or daughter for a period of time. This generally means that a parent will meet with a child in a public place or under the watchful eye of another family member.
It’s Normal for Disagreements to Occur
You should understand that it’s normal to not always agree with the other parent’s style of raising your child. Ideally, you and the other parent will be able to create a parenting plan that can address key issues such as how the child should be disciplined. It should also create a framework for how medical, religious and educational decisions will be made on the minor’s behalf. A family law attorney could help you and your former partner create a parenting plan or otherwise resolve disputes that may occur.
If you’re having trouble with your child’s other parent, it may be a good idea to speak with a family law attorney. Call the folks at Morgenstern & Rochester in Cherry Hill, NJ, by phone at (856) 489-6200. You can also reach us by fax at (856) 424-6977. You can also visit our office on Route 70 during normal business hours.