When a California co-parenting arrangement gets contentious, the parties involved might act with malice toward one another, seeking to deny visitation for any reason. In most cases though, visitation rights cannot be denied unless the child is being subjected to violence, abuse, or imminent danger. Among the most common illegitimate reasons a parent might try to deny the visitation rights of the other are bitterness or resentment toward the ex or a new partner, falling behind on support payments, refusal by the child or sickness of the child.
Bitterness toward an ex is no reason to deny the latter’s rights to visitation with a child, but it can be the only leverage the embittered party has in some cases. Denying visitation for such petty reasons is illegal though, and may be actionable. Resentment of the ex’s new significant other is similarly petty and illegal. In either case, the custodial parent who denies visitation may face fines, loss of custody or jail time.
Rights to visitation are not contingent on the parent making child support payments. Even if the parent falls behind on payments, he or she still has the right to see the kid. Likewise, a parent who is being wrongly denied visitation is still legally obligated to keep up with support payments. Finally, illness on the part of the child is no reason to deny visitation. In cases where the child is hospitalized, the custodial parent may be required to inform the non-custodial parent so visitation can still take place.
An attorney who has experience handling child custody matters might be able to help parents who have questions about visitation or who have been denied their visitation rights. An attorney might be able to help by drafting and filing legal documents to enforce the parent’s rights to visitation or by arguing on the client’s behalf during official family court proceedings.