Violation of Visitation Arrangement

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 What is a Visitation Agreement?

Couples with children must determine custody arrangements during a divorce or legal separation.

There are two types of child custody:

  1. Legal custody, which grants the right to make important decisions about a child, and
  2. Physical custody refers to where the child lives.

Physical custody plays a significant role in crafting visitation agreements, as these outline a parent’s rights to visit their child, often regarding the non-custodial parent’s rights.

A visitation agreement is a legally enforceable contract between a child’s parents that establishes a visitation schedule and outlines each parent’s rights. Once parents finalize the visitation agreement, it must be approved by a court to become legally binding. Violating a visitation agreement is a serious offense with potential legal consequences.

What is a Violation of a Visitation Agreement?

Visitation agreements are legally binding documents that can lead to significant legal repercussions if breached. Often, a violation is considered a form of kidnapping.

Keeping the Child Longer than the Visitation Agreement Allows

Violating the visitation schedule by keeping the child longer than the agreed-upon time can cause tension between the parents and disrupt the child’s routine.

For example, if the non-custodial parent was supposed to return the child on Sunday evening but kept them until Monday morning, this could create problems with the child’s schooling, extracurricular activities, and the custodial parent’s plans.

Repeated instances of this behavior can lead to legal action, such as modifying the visitation agreement or penalties for contempt of court.

Failing to Inform the Other Parent of the Child’s Location

Communication is crucial when co-parenting, and keeping the other parent informed of the child’s whereabouts is essential for maintaining trust and cooperation.

If a parent takes the child to an undisclosed location or intentionally hides the child’s whereabouts from the other parent, this can be seen as an attempt to alienate the child from the other parent or exert control. In extreme cases, this may be considered a form of parental kidnapping, and legal action may be taken to address this behavior.

Taking the Child Out of State or on an Extended Trip Without Prior Approval

Before taking the child out of state or on a long trip, the non-custodial parent must obtain permission from the custodial parent or the court. Failing to do so can result in accusations of parental kidnapping and may lead to legal consequences.

Even if the trip is well-intentioned, such as a surprise vacation or visiting relatives, it is crucial to follow the proper channels to avoid misunderstandings and potential legal issues.

Allowing Unauthorized People to Care for the Child

The visitation agreement may specify who can care for the child when the non-custodial parent is unavailable. If a parent allows an unauthorized person, such as a new partner or a friend with a questionable background, to care for the child, this can raise concerns about the child’s safety and well-being.

In some cases, the custodial parent may request a modification of the visitation agreement to prevent this person from having contact with the child or to limit the non-custodial parent’s unsupervised visitation rights.

Other Case-Specific Violations

Depending on the visitation agreement’s specific terms, there may be other unique violations that could happen. For example, if the agreement states that the non-custodial parent must not consume alcohol or use drugs during visitation, doing so would be a violation. Additionally, if the agreement specifies that the child must be returned to the custodial parent’s home by a certain time, consistently arriving late would also be considered a violation.

Other case-specific violations could include failing to follow agreed-upon rules regarding the child’s education, healthcare, religious upbringing, or other aspects of their life, which may lead to legal consequences and potential modification of the visitation agreement.

What Should I Do If My Visitation Time Was Denied by the Other Parent?

If the other parent breaches the visitation agreement, it may be best for both parents to resolve the issue themselves without involving the courts, especially if it is a one-time occurrence.

However, if violations become habitual, the non-violating parent may need to involve the courts or press criminal charges as a last resort.

If court intervention is necessary, parents should appear before the family court that initially approved the visitation agreement, as that court is best equipped to determine if the agreement has been violated.

Can I Violate a Visitation Agreement If It is in the Child’s Best Interest?

A visitation agreement should never be violated, as denial of visitation rights is illegal. The court is responsible for determining the child’s best interests. If a parent believes the other parent may endanger the child, they should contact the police or seek a court order modifying the visitation agreement.

What Happens If a Parent Denies Visitation, but I Am Not Listed on the Visitation Agreement?

The parents face no legal repercussions if an individual is denied visitation rights but is not listed on the agreement. The person seeking visitation should resolve any issues with the child’s legal parents or attempt to have their name added to the visitation agreement by demonstrating that it is in the child’s best interest.

What are the Penalties for Denying Visitation?

Courts may order any missed visitation time to be made up. Repeated violations can result in a finding of contempt of court, leading to a loss of custody or visitation rights, fines, and possible jail time.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help with Issues Involving Visitation Agreements?

Once a court approves a visitation agreement, the parties involved receive specific visitation rights, including access to their child. Depriving the other party of these rights violates the agreement and can lead to contempt of court.

Violations of visitation agreements can have severe legal consequences for both parents and may negatively impact the child. Contact a child visitation attorney immediately if you believe your visitation rights have been violated. An experienced attorney can help protect your visitation rights, modify the existing agreement, and represent you in court if necessary.

How Can LegalMatch Help?

LegalMatch can help you find a qualified child visitation attorney to assist you with your visitation agreement issues. By filling out LegalMatch’s confidential online form, you will be matched with attorneys in your area with experience in child visitation cases. This service is free, and there is no obligation to hire any of the attorneys matched with you.

Once you receive your matches, you can review the attorneys’ profiles and past client reviews to determine who you want to contact. You can then schedule a consultation with the attorney to discuss your case and determine the best action.

LegalMatch also offers a satisfaction guarantee to ensure you are satisfied with your chosen attorney. If you are unsatisfied with the attorney you select through LegalMatch, you can request a new match at no additional cost.

Don’t wait any longer to get the justice you deserve. Use LegalMatch to connect with qualified child visitation attorneys in your area, saving you time and helping you find the right legal representation for your violation of a visitation arrangement case.

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