Ask a Child Custody Lawyer: How to Handle Denied Visitation

How to Handle Denied Visitation
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Here are some tips on how to handle this tricky situation.

One of the most contentious parts of your divorce was likely coming to a child custody agreement. For the benefit of the child, most Texas family courts and child custody lawyers will encourage co-parenting with visitation or possession orders. But what happens if you are denied visitation?

Ask a Child Custody Lawyer: How to Handle Denied Visitation

If you have been denied your court-ordered visitations rights by your ex-spouse, then you may need the help of child custody lawyers in Sugar Land, TX to help you enforce your rights. Contrary to what many people assume, non-custodial parents do have certain rights to their children, particularly in cases where the custodial parent has denied approved visitation.

So, what happens when you are denied visitation? In this situation, the most common circumstance is when the custodial parent (who has full custody of the child) refuses to let you see your child. This act is a direct violation of the visitation agreement that was part of your child custody resolution. If you are being denied visitation, then you can enforce a visitation order by taking your case back to court.

How a Lawyer Will Help

The first thing a lawyer will do will determine whether or not your visitation order is enforceable. In general, court-ordered visitation is considered enforceable because the court will outline the duties and responsibilities of each parent, and will also include information about the frequency of the visitation, the place where children can be exchanged, and more. An enforceable agreement will be written in legal language that is precise so there is no doubt about the order.

If your visitation order isn't written in clear language, then you may not have an enforceable order. Fortunately, you and your lawyer can petition to have this order modified or clarified so the order can be enforceable in the future. With a modified order, you will be able to exercise your parental rights because the court will help enforce the order. If the custodial parent is still violating the order by denying visitation, there will usually be consequences, such as fines, or the possibility of re-trying the custody agreement.

Filing for Enforcement

In the case where you need to file for enforcement because your ex-spouse continues to deny your visitation rights, you and your lawyer will need to file a motion for a lawsuit. The Texas Family Code has specific requirements for enforcement lawsuits, so your motion will need to meet elements such as which parts of the visitation order were violated, the details of the noncompliance, and a request for the court to enforce your parental rights.

When you ask the court to enforce your visitation rights, you will have the burden of proof, which means you will need to have evidence to prove that you were denied your visitation rights, such as notes. In general, the court is looking for a pattern of behavior from the custodial parent, so you will need to document the agreed times for visitation and the reasons why, if any, the custodial parent denied your visitation. The more evidence you have, the more likely the court will be to enforce the order.

What If You Are the One Denying Visitation?

While many denied visitation cases occur because the non-custodial parent wants to have their visitation rights enforced, there are many other cases where the custodial parent is seeking to permanently deny visitation. While you should always do your best to follow your visitation orders, there may be times when you feel compelled to deny visitation rights. For example:

Abuse and Neglect

Sometimes, as the custodial parent, you may not allow your ex-spouse visitation because of the risk of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. In these cases, you will need to work with a child custody lawyer to modify your possession orders.

When you exchange your child as outlined in your custody agreement, you are trusting that the child is being taken to a safe environment. However, if a child is harmed or neglected while in the care of their other parent, then you may want to consider the legal steps to prevent future visitation.

Child Support

Some custodial parents may try to use non-payment of child support as a reason to deny visitation rights. However, even if the non-custodial parent is not paying child support, you are still legally obligated to allow visitation as outlined by your possession orders. Denying visitation over child support is a direct violation of your agreement and may even hold you in contempt of court, along with other consequences.

Not Exercising Rights

You may also consider modifying visitation orders if the non-custodial parent is not exercising visitation rights. Visitation rights must be exercised by the non-custodial parent, but if the non-custodial parent consistently skips visitation, then they may be forfeiting their rights. If this has a negative impact on the child, you may be able to petition the court to change the visitation agreement.

Child custody and visitation rights can be difficult to navigate when visitation is being denied, but fortunately, lawyers are knowledgeable about your rights and the steps you can take. For example, non-custodial parents can ask the court to enforce visitation rights while non-custodial parents can ask the court to modify visitation agreements when the child's safety is at risk.

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