When Can Parenting Time Be Denied?
Very often situations arise when a parent wonders whether they are excused from following the parenting time order and deny parenting time to the other parent. As with most questions in family law matters, the answer is: it depends on the details of the situation and the family.
However, parents can use the following examples provided by the Friend of the Court of explanations for denied parenting time which are generally not acceptable to the court:
1. The child refuses to go;
2. The parent did not want the child to go;
3. The co-parent is behind in child support payments;
4. The child had a minor illness;
5. The child had to go someplace else;
6. The child was not home;
7. Preconditions, not contained in the Order, were not met;
8. The weather was bad;
9. The child had no clothes to wear; and
10. Religious reasons, unless provided for in the court order.
The following are examples of explanations provided by the Friend of the Court for denying parenting time which are generally acceptable:
1. The parent to exercise parenting time was impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of the parenting exchange;
2. The parent did not show up for his or her parenting time within thirty (30) minutes of the time specified and/or at the place specified in the court order and did not notify the other party and make other arrangements in advance;
3. The child had a major illness;
4. The parent denied parenting time did not meet court ordered preconditions;
5. The parent denied parenting time had established a pattern of failing to appear for his or her scheduled parenting time;
6. A person unknown to the co-parent and child arrived to pick up the child for the other parent’s parenting time; and
7. A peace officer intervened and canceled the exchange.
To avoid a court hearing, when a parent feels that it would be in the best interest of the child not to have the Court ordered parenting time, the parent should reach out to the other parent and try to arrange make-up parenting time. Generally, make-up parenting time, when ordered, is of the same type of time as was denied (e.g. weekend for weekend, holiday for holiday) and the parent who has been denied parenting time chooses the dates for make-up parenting time.
Following these guidelines should help the parents maintain a healthy co-parent relationship and not burden the court system with enforcement actions.
If you think that you are wrongfully being denied parenting time, contact your Friend of the Court case worker to get their opinion, then if appropriate file a written complaint for parenting time denial with the Friend of the Court. Using the Friend of the Court to enforce a parenting time order is one of the roles of the Friend of the Court and is at no cost to the parents. However, the process can take a long time (20-60 days) before you have the opportunity to be heard by a Referee. If time is of the essence, you are best to hire or at least consult with an attorney. Sterling Law offers a free phone consultations as well as an in-person consultation (called Case Evaluation) for a flat fee of $95. Contact Sterling Law for sterling services.
The information in this post is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Sterling Law or the individual author nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the reader’s licensing jurisdiction.