Child visitation laws give non-custodial parents the right to spend time with their children. Typically outlined in the form of a court order, these rights allow parents to have physical custody of their children for specific, scheduled periods. Determining and enforcing these orders is serious, and violations come with harsh consequences to maintain the safety of the children involved.
Violation of Visitation Rights
When a parent does not comply with the terms or arrangements in the visitation agreement, he or she is violating a court order. The following are all examples of violations of visitation rights:
- Canceling visits without scheduling make-up dates
- Changing the plan without an agreement or without the court’s consent
- Not having the child ready at the appointed times or locations
- Keeping the child longer than an agreed-upon time
- Shortening visiting times
- Permitting another person to take the child without approval from the court
- Attempting to visit or contact the child at unappointed times
Enforcing Visitation Rights
Even with friendly separations, it’s not uncommon for parents to have conflicts or legitimate reasons for withholding visitation. In these cases, the parents can work together to schedule make-up dates for lost parenting time. If contentious relationships make discussions or alternative arrangements impossible, there are other measures parents can take to enforce their rights.
Document the Violation
Regardless of who is responsible for missing the visitation, both parents should keep a record of it and document all efforts made to reschedule.
Documentation like this includes:
- Dates and times
- Every interaction between the child and parent (whether in person, by phone, text message, or email)
- Any other action that displays a pattern of interference with the visitation schedule
Co-parenting communication services like Talking Parents can assist you in keeping these records through their secure messaging and unalterable Records.
Law enforcement officers can help in many ways. Police may physically escort the custodial parent if the child is not home at the time set in the visitation order, for example, and efforts to call the non-custodial parent are unsuccessful. Having a police report is also a way to document a denial of visitation, which can help in a custody case.
Seek Legal Assistance
Visitation agreements can usually be worked out directly between parents, or with a third-party mediator. In some cases, it is necessary to consult a family law attorney, especially when one of the parties shows signs of non-compliance or if the child’s well-being is in question. Free legal aid
exists for parents who can’t afford lawyers but still need legal assistance.
Given that it is rarely legal to deny visitation without a valid court order, sometimes it is necessary to go back to court. While guidelines vary from state to state, filing paperwork to enforce visitation rights can result in a range of solutions, including severe legal repercussions for the parent who denies visitation.