Child visitation rights are available for parents who do not live with their child. These rights allow them to visit on a regular basis. Parents may not always agree on the time or the amount of visitation and the court may need to step in to handle these situations.
If parents are granted split custody of the child, there is a parenting time agreement and visitation agreement. This agreement specifies the right of the time with each parent for the child. Parents are legally obligated to abide by the court ordered visitation schedule. However, in some cases parents can create obstacles for the visitation time with the child, ordered by the court. This could be considered either direct interference or indirect interference.
Direct interference is when one parent physically prohibits the child from seeing their parent by moving to another state, taking the child without permission and refusing to return the child in violation of the court order. Additionally, the parent can cancel visitation rights or fail to drop off the child at the scheduled times. Direct inference can also include speaking negatively of the other parent to discourage visitation.
Indirect Interference can include disrupting the communication between the child and the other parent. For example, this may include blocking phone calls and preventing the parent from attending the child’s school activities. Most states do not allow parents to refuse visitation rights if they are behind child support payments.
Courts utilize the child’s best interests standard to determine the child’s visitation order. Often times parents become hostile to one another and fail to acknowledge the child’s interests. Therefore, the court refocuses the parent’s attention to the child’s well being and considers different factors to figure out the child’s visitation order.
States vary on what factors to apply but they generally consist of:
- Parent’s emotional ties to the child;
- The financial contribution of both parents to the child;
- The parent’s ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the child and;
- Courts ensure not to disrupt the child’s education and social development.
In order to start the process of a child visitation order here are some steps to follow:
- If there is already a family law case, the parent, whom the child does not live with can file for a visitation order;
- If both parents agree to the times of the visitation, it would now simply need a signature from the judge to authorize the visitation;
- If no family law case exists, then the parent who wants visitation can initiate the process through the court and;
- Fathers requesting visitation must also prove paternity in order to be granted visitation rights.
States differ in dealing with the interference of child’s visitation rights but these are some general consequences that result from violating the child’s visitation order:
- Order the “make-up” parenting time;
- Order the interfering parents to pay for counseling for the child or either of the parents;
- Pay any cost or fees associated with interfering the visitation rights;
- Changing the location of the pick up and drop off;
- Ordering the interfering parent to do community service and;
- Ordering the arrest and imprisonment of the interfering parent.
Some serious consequences include this violation amounting to a criminal act. Therefore, it is important to follow through with the court-ordered scheduled for the child’s visitation and not cause issues. However, there can be cases of physical danger to the child or the parent in some situations. Court will need to be informed and they will take proper measures to ensure both the safety of the child and the parent.
The custodial parent has the duty to encourage and ensure the child sufficient parenting time with the other parent. They should not interfere with the court-order visitation. The parent also has the responsibility of picking and dropping off the child at the designated locations for the visits. Their duty is to comply with the court orders and allow for visitation without creating problems.
Going through divorce or separation is in itself a stressful time. Besides dealing with those issues, child proceedings can be even more emotionally draining. Courts will step in if there is no mutual agreement regarding child visitation rights.
Therefore, it is important to seek a child’s visitation lawyer in the process to plan out the times that fit your schedule and the other parent’s schedule. If the other parent is not cooperating with the court-ordered visitation, it may be useful to get the child’s visitation lawyer involved. This is a serious offense and can lead to criminal charges for the parties interfering with the child’s visitation rights.