Do I have the right to refuse my ex’s court-ordered visitation?

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If you have legal decision-making authority when it comes to your children, it is likely because you made a valid case before the court that you can better provide for their best interests. The court may also have tried to provide a balance of parenting time for you and your ex, or the two of you may have reached a parenting plan that worked for both of you.

The current state of your relationship with your ex should have no bearing on that parenting schedule, but there may be times when you feel it is appropriate for you to deny the other parent visitation time with the children. What you may not realize is that, in many cases, to do this without permission from the court may be an act of contempt of court that could bring negative consequences to you. Still, is there ever a time when you can legitimately deny your ex access to the kids?

When is it wrong to deny visitation?

Simply refusing to allow your ex his or her court-ordered time with the children is a risky act. While some may use their decision-making authority as a way to punish the other parent, doing so could ultimately result in your own loss of custody of the kids. It is important to think carefully about the reasons why you wish to refuse visitation to your ex.

For example, it is unwise to deny access to the children for your own convenience or preference, or as an emotional reaction to a disagreement with the other parent. The law does not allow you to refuse parental time when he or she falls behind on child support payments. If you have a specific safety concern, such as a suspicion that your ex does not have appropriate car seats, it is often better to try to work these matters out together than to withhold the kids.

The safety of your kids

If you fear that your children are in danger when they are with your ex, you may have a valid reason to keep them home. Nevertheless, in some situations, you may feel like you have no choice. For example, if the other parent seems impaired by drugs or alcohol, if you see evidence of abuse when the children return from visitation, or if there are other clear hazards at your ex’s residence, you may have justification.

You will have to compare the risk of being in contempt with the level of threat to your kids until you can seek a change in your court order. Fortunately, you always have the option of seeking advice from an Arizona attorney before making a move.