In an ideal world, both parents would have a strong relationship with their child even after a divorce. Both parents would work together as partners to make sure their child continued to have all of their physical and emotional needs met.
In reality, sometimes things go awry. Sometimes parents don’t exercise their access, also known as visitation, rights. Sometimes the parent with primary physical custody of the child, or the custodial parent, begins trying to keep the non-custodial parent away from the child.
It’s very important that you know what your rights are in each situation, and that you exercise them ensure that your child’s needs are met to the best of your ability.
Can a parent deny another parent visitation?
No. The access arrangements enshrined in your divorce decree are there by court order. If one parent denies the other visitation in a way that isn’t backed by that order then you can take them back to court and force them to explain why they aren’t doing as the decree says. The court can sanction them, and may even award primary custody to the parent who was being denied visitation.
This is true even if one parent is behind on their child support. Child support and access are too different issues. The custodial parent can’t keep you from visiting your kids.
The only exception may be if you have supervised visitation and the third party supervisor is not available for some reason. Even then that would be grounds to reschedule the visit, not to get rid of it altogether.
Can a custodial parent force visitation?
No. Access is a right the other parent has, not a responsibility. If the non-custodial parent chooses to waive their rights then there’s generally nothing you can do about it except try to help your child through any emotions they might have about that situation.
The sad truth is that some spouses lose interest in visiting with their children after the divorce. They get distracted by new love interests, get discouraged, or have other issues. It’s a common situation, and a hard one.
What are typical visitation rights?
The most typical access rights are 50/50 shared access between both parents, or an arrangement as close to 50/50 as the courts can reasonably make happen. The exception would be if 50/50 parenting time were not in the best interests of the child, or if there is some kind of danger to the child. Parents with drug or alcohol problems, or with a history of domestic violence, might at times be awarded a much smaller percentage of visitation, and their visits would generally be supervised.
A court might go to 60/40 when the parents live a sufficient distance from one another to make a more equitable arrangement impossible.
In all cases, the best interest of the child is the standard the court is evaluating when trying to make decisions about access rights.
Why Merchant Law?
When you trust Merchant Law with your family law issues, you’re partnering with a team of lawyers who have decades of experience in family law. Some of our partners have even been published in prestigious family law journals. We know exactly what it takes to help you navigate a tough situation, and will protect your relationship with your kids.
To get started, call (604) 535-7777 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, or visit our office at 63337 198 St #101, Langley City, BC.