A custodial parent can sometimes prevent a non-custodial parent from seeing a child when the parents are separated or divorced. A parent denying the visitation, however, runs the risk of serious legal consequences. That’s because denial is considered illegal if there is a custody order in effect, except in very specific instances. One case might be where visitation with the non-custodial parent would risk harming the child, either emotionally or physically.
What if you are a non-custodial parent being denied visitation? You have several choices. Your first option should be to try to contact the custodial parent. Ask them why you are not being allowed to see your child. Make sure to record any times you are denied visitation and the reasons you were given. Keep copies, too, of any messages or communications you have had with your ex-spouse, including letters, texts, or e-mails. Such record keeping will help prove that you made every effort to carry out your visitation rights in the case you need to seek the court to intervene.
You may choose to file a police report If you have a copy of the court order, and ask the local authorities to assist you. The police are technically authorized to enforce orders for parenting time, however, they may be unwilling to get involved in a family law dispute. That is, of course, unless there is parental kidnapping or child abuse involved.
Calling a family law attorney is another option. They may be able to help you enforce visitation and custody orders. Your attorney can send a strongly-worded letter to your ex-spouse. In it, it can be stated that you are willing to resolve the issue outside of court but that there are conditions. Denying court-ordered visitations must stop and any missed visitation days must be made up. A letter like that will show an attempt has been made to resolve the issue in good faith and without court interference.
What if you are constantly being denied visitation? If so, you may also choose to file a motion requesting orders from the court. Depending on your situation, you may request the court enforce the custody order, modify it, or issue other orders or sanctions, seeking to prevent the custodial parent from violating orders at a later date. Filing for contempt is also possible, where the custodial parent may face stiff penalties such as paying a significant fine or facing jail time.
You may feel hopeless and frustrated about the situation, however, it is essential that you fight for the rights you are entitled to and do not give up. As much as possible, make every attempt to resolve the issue outside of court before approaching a judge. It is vital as well that you continue paying your mandated child support unless the court orders you to do otherwise.
For your child’s sake, every attempt should be made to resolve the matter as pleasantly as possible. If the custodial parent keeps denying you your visitation rights, though, consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. A family law attorney can help you better understand your legal options.