When parents get divorced, they usually have to agree on custody. Often, one parent (usually the mother) gets custody of the child, while the other is entitled to visitation. Whether custody and visitation are agreed upon, or a system is set up by the court, it is legally binding. As such, violating a visitation agreement is a very serious matter, and in many instances is considered kidnapping.
If the custodial parent fails to deliver a child to a scheduled visitation, or otherwise prevents visitation, he or she is directly violating a court order, and is creating potential criminal liability.
If the other parent violated a visitation agreement, first it is best to attempt to work out the problem with the other parent, without involving the courts. If it was a one-time occurrence, it may save a lot of time and energy to let it slide once. If it becomes habitual, however, problems can arise. Pressing criminal charges, however, should be a last resort.
If the courts must get involved, the parents should go before the family court that approved the visitation agreement in the first place, as that court will be in the best position to determine that it has been violated.
No, denial of visitation for any reason is illegal. It is the court’s role to determine the best interests of a child, as the parents are often unable to be objective in this matter. If a parent is truly concerned that the other parent may jeopardize the safety of the children, that parent should either call the police immediately or wait to get a court order changing the visitation.
If a person is denied visitation but is not on the visitation agreement, then there is no legal repercussion as there is no legal obligation to allow the person to visit the children. This is often a common problem with relatives such as grandparents. The best way for people to fix this is to mend any broken bridges with the legal parents of the children. If that isn’t possible but the person still wants to see the children, it may still be possible to see the children if the grandparent or other relative can get his or her name added to the visitation agreement. This is usually best achieved by convincing the court that such visitation is in the child’s best interest.
Courts may order the missed visitation time to be made up. After repeated violations, the court may hold the offending parent in contempt of court, which could subject them to a loss of custody or visitation rights, fines, and jail time.
If a court order grants a person access to his or her child, that is automatically a right which the other parties to the court order cannot deny. An experienced family law attorney can ensure that this right is enforced.
Last Modified: 08-08-2012 02:01 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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