Parents who take it upon themselves to deny visitation rights without following the proper channels through the courts, do so in violation of Virginia law. Even in cases of non-payment of child support, it is simply not appropriate for a parent to arbitrarily deny court-ordered visitation.
“My Ex Won’t Let Me See My Child!”
A parent who refuses to allow another parent visitation that has been court-ordered risks being found in contempt of court. If the offending parent does not comply with the order, by allowing the court-ordered visitation, that parent could face jail time or a fine.
If one parent believes the other parent should not have visitation, for whatever reason, the proper way to handle the situation is through the courts. If it is an emergency situation, such as violence or abuse, the court can award an emergency order followed by a final order. If it is not an emergency situation, there must have been a change in circumstances since entry of the last custody and visitation order, to allow for a modification of that order. A change in circumstances may include:
- abuse or neglect,
- new siblings or step-parents, and/or
- the age and preferences of the child.
“…But I Got Behind on my Child Support.”
One of the largest misperceptions about child support and visitation is that parents may feel as though they are paying to see their children. This is not the case. In fact, the United States Constitution affords parents a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of their children. See Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000). One parent may not deny the other parent visitation of a child simply because the other parent is not paying child support. Similarly, one parent may not withhold child support payments simply because the other parent will not allow visitation.
This right, however, is not unconditional. If it is in the child’s best interests, a court may deny a parent custody or visitation. Several Virginia Courts require parents to attend parenting education seminars when custody or visitation is in dispute. When appropriate, courts may order psychological evaluations or drug testing of a parent to help determine whether or not custody or visitation is in the best interests of the child.
Whether the other parent is denying you visitation with your children or you want to amend the custody and visitation schedule with your children, the family law attorneys at Livesay & Myers, P.C. have the knowledge and experience to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.