Rules regarding child custody and child visitation are normally a matter of state law. However, almost every state recognizes a form of physical and legal custody and visitation.
If you have sole physical custody of your child, the other parent – normally the father – will generally have some form of visitation rights. As the parent with physical custody, you would be referred to as the custodial parent, while the father of your child would be called the non-custodial parent.
In many cases, parents are given the opportunity to work out their own visitation agreements, but if you can’t agree, the court will decide for you.
In some cases, the family court may order supervised visitation. This occurs when the non-custodial parent may pose a danger or risk for your child or has never formed a parental relationship with your child. You and the child’s father may agree to supervised visitation, or a judge could order supervised visitation in an effort to protect your child.
Reasons for Stopping Visitation
While you may be happy with your current visitation schedule as a parent, sometimes there are good reasons for wanting to keep your child from visiting your ex.
There are legitimate reasons for stopping father visitation rights; however, you could end up defending your decision in front of a judge in court. This is why it’s important that you understand the reasons a judge may accept your request. They include:
1. Drug/Alcohol Abuse: If the father of your child has used drugs or become drunk in front of your child, this could be a good reason to stop visitation rights. In this case, however, the court may require the father to attend drug/alcohol rehabilitation or counseling. The ability of the father of your child to have visitation rights may become conditional upon him successfully completing a counseling program.
2. Domestic Abuse: It may be possible to stop visitation rights if the father has been accused of domestic abuse and/or violence. The judge will look at a few factors in deciding whether or not domestic violence is enough to stop visitation. This includes whether your child or a sibling was the target of the abuse, whether your child saw the domestic violence, and whether the abusive parent has sought help in the form of counseling for domestic abuse/violence.
3. Child is in Immediate Danger: You may be able to refuse visitation to your child’s father if you believe your child could be in danger. A dangerous environment for your child could be that there are weapons not being stored properly, a neighborhood with a high crime rate, or the father is living in a home where previous crimes have been committed by other people living in the home.
4. Incarceration: This is an extremely complicated reason. For the most part, parents who are in jail are entitled to visitation with their children. However, it’s possible that you may not want your child to have the experience of visiting their parent in a prison setting. If this pertains to your situation, you should get help from a knowledgeable and experienced attorney about your rights to refuse visitation. The court will determine whether your child visiting an incarcerated parent is in the best interest of the child. This means that you have got to be prepared to answer a lot of questions the judge may ask you in court.
Reasons Not Good Enough to Stop a Father’s Visitation Rights
Just as there are legitimate reasons to stop a father from having visitation rights, there are also reasons that just aren’t good enough. Some examples include:
- It’s illegal for you to refuse the father of your child visitation rights because you don’t like the father’s new significant other.
- It’s also illegal to refuse visitation rights if your child is sick, visiting relatives, out of town, or for almost any other reason.
- If an emergency comes up and your child has to be taken to the hospital, you must notify the father so he can visit the child there.
- In most cases, even if the father hasn’t been making child support payments, you cannot deny visitation.
- It’s understandable to be angry at your ex-spouse and/or father of your child after a divorce or breakup. However, you cannot deny the father of your child visitation because of this reason.
- Additionally, you can’t deny visitation to your child’s father because you are being spiteful or want revenge. Not only is this childish, but it could – if the child’s father decides to go to court – cause you to lose custody of your child.
Ways to Stop a Father’s Visitation Rights
If you feel you have just grounds to stop your ex’s visitation rights, it’s time to look into your options for doing so. The route you take will depend on your immediate and long-term needs, as well as your unique situation. Some actions you can take to stop a father’s visitation rights to your child include:
- Filing A Motion: In some cases, action needs to be taken immediately to stop father visitation rights if your child is in immediate danger or the father of your child takes action because you have denied him his visitation with his child.
- Temporary Order: Sometimes, you or the father of your child may seek a temporary order for parenting time and/or visitation. Most of the time, a temporary order is used if you and the father of your child are in the middle of a divorce or child custody battle. Your attorney, or the child’s father’s attorney, may ask the court for a temporary order. This order can be modified at a later date by filing a motion.
- Final Order: When your case is over, the judge will issue a Final Order regarding child custody and visitation rights. This order may be amended in the future by filing a Complaint for Modification in court. Keep in mind, however, that this will start a new case.
A Complaint for Modification can take a long time to wind its way through the court system, so your attorney or the father’s attorney may ask the judge to issue a temporary order.
Remember, you must have a very good reason for stopping a father’s visitation rights. You will need to be able to prove to the court that there has been a “material and substantial change of circumstances” and your child is in need of a change in visitation. Know exactly why you need to revoke a father’s visitation rights in the eyes of the court, and come prepared with all the information you need to make the verdict stick. Always speak to a qualified attorney about your situation to best protect your child.