If you have been awarded physical custody of your minor-aged child, you will very likely have a visitation order from the judge in hand once your divorce is final. Whether you and your spouse were able to work together and create a fair and workable visitation agreement or you ended up having to let the judge decide, you are now committed to that agreement. It's important that you understand that the visitation order is not just a suggestion; the exact times and dates that your ex-spouse is allowed to have temporary custody of your child is spelled out in specific terms. Read on for more information about how much control you have over your visitation agreement.
You Cannot Deny Your Ex Visitation
In most instances, you ex has the right to exercise their visitation rights as ordered despite your personal feelings on the matter. You cannot simply deny the visitation order, since doing so could put you in jeopardy of being in contempt of the court order. Take a look at some of the following bad reasons for trying to deny visitation.
Non-support: Child-support orders are taken just as seriously as visitation orders, but in legal terms, they are two completely separate issues. No matter how far behind your ex is in child-support payments, you still cannot deny them their visitation rights. You should know, however, that nonpayment of child support should not simply be ignored. There are serious ramifications that go with this offense, and your ex should be reported to the local child-support enforcement agency.
Minor issues: It can be extremely annoying to have your child brought home from visitation late or to have to wait for the other parent to arrive for picking up. That being said, you cannot deny visitation for these types of minor reasons. The courts expect to you to work out these issues between yourselves. Other minor issues include feeding the child the "wrong" types of food (sugar and so forth), allowing the child to stay up too late, and more.
New relationships: It's time for both parents to move on, but issues relating to new relationships can get awkward. No matter how you personally feel about your ex's new partner, you cannot deny visitation on those grounds alone. If you know that the new person in child's life in inappropriate in some manner, you should address the matter with the authorities.
When to Take Action
While you should not deny visitation rights under most circumstances, common sense and the best interests of the child should be used to evaluate certain situations. The following issues should prompt you to take action such as requesting emergency court hearings. Keep in mind that these issues can be extended to cover people who closely associate with your ex as well.
Abuse: Take action immediately if you have a strong suspicion that your ex or someone connected to them is abusing your child. Make sure that you contact the police and file charges, since you will be expected to prove your allegations at the hearing.
Drug abuse: Just as with abuse allegations, you must be ready to show proof of any alcohol and illegal-drug use. You should be very careful here, since making allegations without being able to prove them could lead to charges and possibly even losing custody of your child. For example, a parent who drinks is not breaking the law or necessarily harming the child, but a parent who drives drunk is.
Talk to a firm such as Gordon Liebmann Attorneys at Law for personalized advice and help.