Unless a child is subjected to abuse, violence, or other situations of imminent danger while in the care of a non-custodial parent, it can be assumed that he or she has the right to visitation. Still, this fact isn't enough to prevent squabbles between co-parents, particularly those who are contending with hurt feelings along with the complications of shared parenting.
Here are seven reasons a custodial parent might unlawfully deny his or her ex visitation rights—and why the reasons shouldn't be used.
There's bitterness and hostility felt toward the ex.
Separated parents can react in an angry moment and utilize the only leverage they might have over another parent: the child. Not only is this not in the best interest of the child, it's also illegal. The custodial parent can face legal repercussions including fine, jail time, and loss of custody.
There's resentment toward the ex's significant other
When the non-custodial parent becomes romantically involved with another person, the sting felt by the custodial parent is twofold: there's the hurt that comes with knowing the ex has moved on, and there's feelings of jealously and apprehension surrounding the significant other's relationship with the child. In another scenario, the child might not care for the new mate and refuse the visitations as long as he or she is in the picture. Neither situation is grounds to refuse visitation.
There's no bedroom for the child at the ex's house.
The fact that the other parent doesn't have a separate bedroom for the child is a frequent reason why parents choose to refuse visitation. However, the lack of a separate bedroom isn't an appropriate reason to refuse visitation.
The ex is behind on child support payments.
Visitation rights aren't contingent upon timely child support payments, so even if the ex isn't current on the payments, he or she still has the right to see the child. In that same respect, a parent cannot refuse to pay child support just because he/she is not receiving adequate visitation rights.
The child refuses the visit.
This can be tricky because a child may refuse visitation with a parent for a legitimate reason. However, the refusal can simply stem from the child's resistance to the change. A parent should not act on a child's initial impulse; instead, the parents should communicate about possible causes of the child's refusal to visit. If parents present a united front, it may be fairly easy for a child to understand and appreciate the benefits of having two homes.
The child is sick.
Whether it's the common cold, the chicken pox, or something else altogether, illness isn't considered a lawful reason to deny the visit. If the child is hospitalized, the custodial parent is expected to inform the non-custodial parent so that the visit can take place at the hospital.
The child has other plans, or you'll be on vacation.
It's the responsibility of the custodial parent to ensure that the child's schedule is structured around the visits. When that's not possible, the custodial parent is obligated to get the co-parent's permission (in writing) that the visitation can be rescheduled.