Denial of Visitation Rights

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What Is a Denial of Visitation Rights?

A court can deny or restrict visitation if the court believes that the child might be in danger due to the visitation. The court usually denies or restricts visitation if for example, the non-custodial parent has molested the child, is likely to kidnap the child, or is likely to use illegal drugs or excessive amounts of alcohol while caring for the child.

There are also times when a parent denies the other parent visitation rights without the court’s permission. Denying visitation to the other parent without a court’s permission is illegal and can lead to legal repercussions. 

When two parents are divorced or separated, the custodial parent sometimes prevents the non-custodial parent from exercising his or her child visitation rights. If you are a non-custodial parent that has been denied visitation rights that you previously had, there are some common reasons why you were denied visitation rights: 

What Are Common Reasons a Parent Is Denied Visitation?

  • Non-custodial parent not paying child support
  • Disapproval of other parent’s relationships, such as a new mate
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Child abuse Incarceration
  • Religious differences
  • Child’s wishes
If there is a custody order in force, denying visitation is illegal and can have serious legal repercussions for the parent who denies visitation.

In some jurisdictions, a custodial parent may deny visitation if visitation with the non-custodial parent would risk exposing the child to immediate bodily injury or emotional harm. However, the custodial parent must also take specific steps before denying visitation, such as notifying the appropriate authorities. This is only permitted in exceptional circumstances.

Can You Lose Custody If You Deny Visitation Rights?

A parent can lose custody of their child by denying the other parent their visitation rights if there isn’t a court order denying visitation. In any situation, if a custodial parent does not want their children to be in contact with the other parent, they would need to return to court and get the original custody order changed to deny the other parent visitation rights. The entire process must be run through the court system and cannot be done at the parent’s own will or decision. 

How Will the Visitation be Restricted? 

Restricted visitation is only allowed under supervision. Normally your court judgment on visitation specifies the conditions of supervised visitation, and what role the supervisor should have. Unsupervised visitation is usually not allowed until after the batter completes a batter prevention program and doesn’t become violent for some time.

If you believe that denying the non-custodial parent visitation is in the best interest of your child, you would need to review your state's child custody laws to determine whether the denial is legally allowed and what the acceptable reasons to request a modification of your original child custody orders are. Courts require the requesting parent to prove that the non-custodial parent has exhibited behaviors that have harmed the child, such as:

Do the Parents Have to Meet when Transferring the Child?

No, the child can be transferred between the parents in a neutral place by a third party and the parents don't have to meet. Third party transfers may be required if there is a restraining order on one of the parents.

Can Visitation be Suspended?

Visitation should be suspended if there are repeated violations of the visitation conditions, the child is severely distressed because of the visitation, or there are clear indications that the violent parent has threatened to harm or flee with the child. Visitation rights are not guaranteed and can be suspended, denied, or restricted if the court decides that it is for the child’s best interest.

What Happens if my Child and I Have to Go into Hiding?

If the battered parent needs to flee with his/her children, this can be a defense against "child abduction charges." If that parent flees without the children, he/she is also protected from charges of "child abandonment." However, if there is no history or fear of abuse, then these arguments become significantly weaker.

Can I Move Away from my Abuser with my Child?

When parents of a minor child have custodial rights, either parent’s ability to move away becomes very limited. If one parent wants to move away and take the child with them, that parent has to get approval from the other parent and anyone else who has custodial rights of the child. 

If the other parent does not approve, the parent wishing to move with the child must get permission from the court. In certain situations where the non-custodial parent is an abuser of the child, the court will consider this as a factor if there is a continued risk of harm to the child and the abused parent.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are seeking to protect yourself and your children, it may be wise to consult with a family lawyer to discuss what your options are. Working with an experienced family lawyer can help you understand your rights and help you deal with the complicated legal system.

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Last Modified: 08-05-2015 01:04 PM PDT

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