When a couple divorces or separates, one or both of the former partners may ask, “Can I legally prevent my child from seeing the other parent?” Typically, the answer will be no in cases where the other parent has failed to pay child support or does not follow the custody agreement, such as arriving late or missing scheduled visits. Nonetheless, there are some exceptions. Since every case is unique, a concerned parent may want to seek advice for his or her specific situation. If you are concerned about letting your child visit his or her other parent, consider contacting a knowledgeable attorney from the Colorado Divorce Law Group by calling (720) 593-6442 to schedule a consultation.
Since visitation is often stipulated in a custody order from the court, the child should see his or her other parent in accordance with the schedule. The role of custodial parents is to make the children available for visitation and encourage them to attend. Parents should especially ensure that their young children adhere to the schedule. However, the court may be more understanding if a teenager refuses. One helpful practice is keeping a record of all refusal incidents and the reasons, if any, the child gives. These records may be needed for any future custody hearings.
An important role in determining custody arrangements is having someone to act as a neutral third party who can consider what is in the best interests of the child. Often, this person maintains a relationship with both parents. However, the presiding judge may also take into consideration factors like a stable home environment, adjustment to school, and the wishes of the child if the court determines that the child is old or mature enough to have a reasonable preference.
The parent who has either sole physical custody or provides the primary residence for the child is the custodial parent. The other parent is the non-custodial parent, and this parent typically has visitation rights. Common reasons for denying visitation are disagreements about how to raise the child—differences in religion, education, or parenting style—or not wanting the child to be around a certain relative or the other parent’s new partner. However, there can be serious consequences for custodial parents who deny visitation to a former partner without court approval, including:
Parents who have sole physical custody may feel uncomfortable being away from their children, particularly if the visit is long, if the children are young, or if the parent feels that the other parent is irresponsible. A judge may not consider these to be sufficient reasons to prevent the other parent from seeing the child. However, if a custodial parent has valid concerns regarding the child’s safety, the parent may be able to restrict or even deny the other parent’s visitation rights. If a custodial parent wishes to ask the court to restrict the other parent’s access to his or her child based on concerns for the child’s safety, the custodial parent may need to provide evidence. This evidence may be for times when the non-custodial parent:
If you believe that your child is in immediate danger, call the police or child protective services rather than simply preventing visitation. Whether you are a custodial or non-custodial parent, if you feel that existing custody arrangements pose an ongoing risk, a family law attorney from the Colorado Divorce Law Group may be able to help.
The court may decide to limit but not deny visitation. According to the Colorado Foundation for Families and Children, a judge may order supervised parenting time in cases with allegations of alcohol or drug abuse, inappropriate parenting, a history of violence, neglect, abuse, improper relationships, untreated mental health issues, or other behaviors or circumstances that could put the child at risk.
Filing a motion for supervised parenting time is one option to legally restricting the conditions under which the other parent sees the child. The restriction often takes effect immediately, and the court may schedule a hearing within as little as two weeks. During supervised parenting time, a neutral third party supervises the visit. This person could be a trusted family member or a professional parenting supervisor whose pay comes from the parent or parents as ordered by the court.
Sometimes, parents arrive at custody agreements on their own and do not need a court order. In such informal arrangements, the primary parent can deny visitation without legal repercussions and can even take the child to another state or country. There is no legal enforcement available for parents without a court order.
However, even unmarried parents can obtain a court order that establishes custody and visitation rights. To facilitate this process, the parent who wishes to secure visitation rights may need to establish legal parenthood as defined by the Colorado Judicial Branch. A paternity test will typically help to provide proof of parentage in the event of a dispute. Parents who are concerned about the legal grounds for seeking a court order to establish a formal custody arrangement may want to discuss appropriate options with a skilled family law attorney.
When there is a custody order in place, the parents generally have the right to know where the child is during his or her time with the other parent. However, one parent may have a valid reason for not wanting the other parent to know the child’s current location, such as to keep the parent’s home address private. That parent may not want to comply with the order, instead asking, “Can I legally prevent my child from seeing the other parent?” Having no order in place may help parents avoid this issue, but they will also have no legal basis to enforce their visitation rights. Therefore, concerned parents may wish to ask the court to make an exception in the custody agreement to protect their privacy.
Have you asked, “Can I legally prevent my child from seeing the other parent?” The answer is rarely straightforward. Whether you are the custodial parent and have good reason for wanting your child to have limited or no contact with the other parent or the other parent is keeping you away from your child, you may have options. Consider contacting an experienced attorney from the Colorado Divorce Law Group by calling (720) 593-6442 to schedule a consultation today.