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When can I deny my ex visitation with our child?

If you are divorced or separated from your child's other parent, it may go without saying that you don't always get along. In fact, there may be very bad feelings between you and your former partner that make it a challenge to co-parent. However, your difficulties with your co-parent should not affect your custody schedule. As tempted as you may be to deny your ex access to your child, you should understand that doing so may result in negative consequences for you.

Refusing to allow your child to go with his or her parent simply because you are upset or angry with your ex can be a big mistake. Family courts do not look kindly on parents who use their children to punish each other. While there may be legitimate reasons for keeping your child home from your ex's house, you would be wise to seek legal advice before taking matters into your own hands.

Think carefully before refusing custody

One common misconception is that a parent who fails to pay child support forfeits visitation rights. If your ex falls behind on child support, you may feel justified in refusing him or her visitation. This is a mistake. In Virginia family court, child support and custody are two separate matters. Even if your ex is unable or unwilling to pay support, your child deserves the opportunity to bond with both parents. However, you may feel you're acting in your child's best interest to refuse visitation for the following:

  • Your ex does not show up for scheduled parenting time or refuses to comply with the parenting schedule.
  • Your ex consistently arrives late or drops off early.
  • Your child refuses to go with the other parent.

If any of these or other serious concerns cause you to hesitate when it is time for your ex to have the child, you would be wise to bring your questions to a skilled family law attorney. Your attorney may recommend requesting a modification of custody so that your ex's schedule may better accommodate visitation.

On the other hand, if you have concerns about the safety or well-being of your child in the custody of the other parent, you may have a valid reason to question the wisdom of allowing your ex to have visitation. You attorney can advocate on your behalf in court if you have suspicions that your child is at risk.

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