Parents who are divorced or legally separated are entitled to reasonable visitation with their children. However, in some circumstances, this visitation may not be in the best interest of the child.
The following are common examples which demonstrate why a noncustodial parent may be denied visitation rights:
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Domestic violence
- The child is in danger while in the company of the parent
- Child abuse incarceration
- Fear of abduction
- Noncustodial parent fails to pay child support
- Disapproval of other parent’s relationship, such as a new significant other
- Child’s wishes
Visitation rights are not guaranteed and can be denied or restricted if the court decides that is best for the child’s best interest. Keep in mind, courts rarely deny visitation entirely, especially during a temporary order while a divorce is pending. Visitation might be denied after a trial during which custody is litigated as part of the divorce, but this would generally be the result of dire circumstances.
So in most cases, it is possible to obtain a suspension of visitation rather than permanent custody change. Visitation could be suspended if there are repeated violations of the visitation conditions, the child suffers severe distress due to the visitation, or there are clear indications that the noncustodial parent has threatened to harm or flee with the child.
Additionally, the custodial parent must also take specific steps before denying visitation, such as notifying the appropriate authorities. For instance, you can contact the police for assistance and file a police report in the event of a violation.
As far as repercussions for refusing visitation without a court order is concerned, a parent who prevents another parent from exercising his/her visitation rights should expect some consequences. The noncustodial parent will most likely file for child custody modification, where a court will either alter the child custody arrangement-in favor of the noncustodial parent-or a court may leave the current custodial agreement intact.
If you are interested in modifying child custody rights in Southern California, contact our Murrieta family lawyers at Westover Law Group today.