Most parents would do anything to exercise their right to visit and see their children as often as possible. However, there are times when a non-custodial parent misses visitation, either accidentally or on purpose. Visitations, also known as parenting time, are essential for the well-being of everyone involved in a child custody case.
On the one hand, children benefit from knowing that they will see both of their parents. It gives them a sense of security for following a particular routine. In addition, children who grow with both parents tend to have higher self-esteem, become confident teens and adults.
On the other hand, a parenting plan allows the parents to work, have personal time, and handle personal affairs without their children.
While a judge is unlikely to force a parent to spend time with their child, the court expects both parents to comply with the parenting plan.
This article presents a general overview of visitation rights, the consequences of missing them, and the process involved in dealing with missed visitations.
Custodial Vs. Non-Custodial Parents
After a divorce, the court divides the custody of the child between the two parents. As its name implies, the custodial parent is the spouse who takes primary custody over the child. The court expects the mother or father to take care of the child at all times except during visitation of the other parent. The court usually grants visitation rights to the non-custodial parent.
The non-custodial parent picks up the child at the previously fixed visitation schedule. The court encourages frequent visitations as long as it doesn’t interfere with the child’s school schedule. If parents are to reside in locations that are far from each other, the judge will grant more freedom to the non-residential parent during holidays and vacations.
How is the visitation schedule set?
In most states, the law requires divorcing parents to discuss and draft an agreement that outlines the visitation plans.
If parents are in a strong disagreement, they may need the assistance of a third-party mediator to help them negotiate the terms of the visitation and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
Child visitation plans must be approved by a judge since they are required to make sure that it contains a reasonable visitation schedule in the child’s best interests and while making it easy for the co-parent to exercise their visitation rights.
When the Non-custodial Parent is Perpetually Late for Visitation
Some parents don’t exercise parental visitation rights unless convenient for them and fit in their schedules.
When a residential parent finds themselves often rescheduling the visitation plan and wasting hours waiting for the parent to show up, they should speak up about it. The non-residential parent cannot always come up with excuses and persistently disregard his child’s and ex-spouse’s schedule.
If the non-custodial parent is late for visitations, you can inform them that from now on, you can no longer tolerate delay that is affecting your child’s daily life. You can give your ex a window of time to be late, after which non-custodial parent will forfeit visitation slot. For this to work, you should highlight that there will be no make-ups or replacement slots.
If the non-custodial parent feels offended or wants to take it to court, be prepared to present a record of the regular late visitations up to that point and accurately defend your perspective and rationale for the modified rule, you implemented.
What Happens if the Non-Custodial Parent Misses Visitation?
The custodial parent will find themselves lost in the case of a non-custodial parent not visiting the child. Should they continue to get the child ready, only for the child to be disappointed when the other parent does not show up? Can the custodial parent ignore the visitation rights of his divorcee?
Before returning to court, it might be better for the custodial parent to try to fix the problem by doing one of the following:
- Adopt a firmer tone: This is essential so that the ex-spouse understands that you are not a pushover and you will no longer tolerate delay. You can demand the non-custodial parent a twenty-four-hour notice to prepare the child for their visitation. That way, you regain control of the child’s life and limit his or her disappointment.
- Have your attorney send a letter to your ex: This is sometimes all it takes to get your ex to follow the custodial schedule. The attorney can write up a strong note that notifies the other parent that they will suffer severe consequences if they don’t obey the court orders. Non-custodial parent visitation is not a slight matter, and your ex-spouse must understand this.
- Ask for mediation services from the Family Services Office: If you could set the schedule amicably. Still, you cannot seem to be able to enforce it, contact the court that set your child custody orders and see whether they provide mediation services. This may help you and your ex resolve your problem without having to go to court.
- Document everything: Despite what you decide to do when the non-custodial parent is not exercising visitation rights, you should always take down notes of whatever is happening. Adapting a computer-based software can help you, as a custodial parent, keep track of the non-custodial parent misses’ dates and present them to the court when needed. Include in the notes everything from your child’s school’s attendance records to your attempts to resolve the situation with your ex in your notes. This information will only help you if you need to take legal action.
– Court Action for Violating Visitation
If the non-custodial parent refuses to see the child after trying everything, the custodial parent should take the case to court.
The consequences of a parent not showing up for visitation mainly vary depending on the severity of the violation, how many times the parent has skipped visitation, and the child’s best interest.
A judge will rarely revoke the non-custodial parent’s right to visit. However, there are consequences for violating the visitation schedule.
Some of the measures a judge could take when a parent misses his visitations are:
- Requiring the parent to pay for and attend parenting classes
- Requiring the culpable parent to pay for and attend family counseling
- Revising the custody agreement and/or limiting the parent’s access to the child
- Enforcing a monetary fee to be paid to the custodial parent each time the parent is late or absent for scheduled visitations
- Requiring the parents to attend mediation to resolve issues at the expense of the violating party
– Making Up Missed Visits
The judge’s primary concern is the child’s well-being. Thus, he decides based on the child’s best interests. If a non-custodial parent cancels visitation and wishes to make up those visits, the judge may authorize it.
Nevertheless, the judge may deny the request depending on the reasons why the non-residential parent missed the visitation in the first place.
If you are the custodial parent and your ex-spouse requests makeup parenting time, always keep an open mind, consider what is best for your child, and the co-parent. Remember that sometimes things come up unexpectedly and life gets in the way.
What happens if Children Refuse Visitations
In some cases, both the custodial and non-custodial parents are willing to abide by the visitation schedule; however, the child refuses to do so. Since the court sets the schedule to meet the child’s best interests, no one can force them to visit their parents.
Nonetheless, the custodial parent should follow legal ramifications in cooperating with the child’s refusal.
Every time children refuse to visit a non-custodial parent, as a custodial parent, you should:
- Discuss with them why they do not want to participate in the visit (if it is an issue of safety, refer to your attorney for advice).
- Reassure your children that both parents love them and that you want them to spend time with their other parent.
- Explain the concept of visitation and why it’s crucial to spend time with both parents.
- As a last resort, talk with the other parent about allowing the child to break or reduce the visits’ length.
- Non-residential parents should exercise their visits at the scheduled time.
- If the current schedule is no longer working for one of the parents, an attorney can help modify it.
- When a custodial parent is dealing with a non-custodial parent late for visitation or missing visitation, there are several measures they can take, including:
– Setting limits by using a firm tone.
– Sending a letter through an attorney
– Using a mediator
– Documenting the missed or late visitations
– Returning to the court.
- For the right reasons, the court can allow the non-custodial parent to make up for missed visitations.
- There are several ways to deal with children who refuse to visit their non-custodial parents; however, it is vital to communicate with them and understand the reasons behind their decision. If it is a matter of safety, the custodial parent should contact the lawyer.
- Although the court rarely revokes a non-custodial parent’s right to visitation, continuous violations of visitations can have serious consequences.
Parents should never forget that their children will always tie them together in a way or another. So, both parents should try to maintain a decent relationship for the sake of their kids. As long as it is not a constant issue, they should do everything they can to work together in the child’s best interests.