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Visitation: Part 1: What happens if a parent never shows up for visitation?

DeBernardis & Associates     While you hate to give up time with your child, you know that the visitation with his other parent is good for their relationship, can be a very positive thing and (let’s face it) is a little break for you. Even if you don’t look forward to that time when your child is with the other parent, your child certainly does.

Often, I receive inquiries from custodial parents (where the child lives most of the time) about visitation. The other parent doesn’t show up for visitation. He’s always late/early for visitation. She is haphazard about visitation. He doesn’t seem to care about visitation. He does nothing with the child on his visits. She leaves the child wither parents during visits while she works. He goes out with friends when the child visits. So, what can be done about these issues?

For today, let’s discuss missed visits or issues with drop off/ pick up. What happens if mom/dad doesn’t show up time after time? What happens if mom is always late?

Generally speaking, the Court will likely not take away the parent’s right to visit simply because he is not visiting or because he is visiting at the wrong times and in the wrong ways. The Court may, however, look to ensure that the custodial parent is not inconvenienced by the missed/late visits by imposing conditions for notice.

If the parent is not exercising the visitation, or is doing so in an inconsistent fashion, the custodial parent can move to modify the terms of the visitation. Dad can look to decrease the amount of visitation (since it is not being exercised anyway). Mom can look to require that Dad notify her 48 hours in advance if he will indeed visit during his ordered time. Dad can look to have Mom confirm that she is en route to his house and expects to be on time. Depending on the issue, the custodial parent can look to have the Court order that some action be taken to ensure that some condition is in place to keep everyone notified about what is happening.

The Court will also want to be sure that the child is not disappointed, or negatively affected otherwise, by a parent’s failure to appear for visitation. You may picture a little girl waiting on his front porch for hours waiting for her dad to come to visit, though Dad never appears. If your child has a particular mental health or psychological issue that is relevant here, that is also important. Generally, the Court can only reach so far to protect a child. He Court only has a certain amount of control our lives. But in a situation when a child is truly suffering trauma as a result of this issue, you may prove successful in getting some assistance from the Court. In these circumstances, you may request that the Court impose even more strict conditions or even decrease visitation until/unless the other parent begins to follow through. You may request that before additional visitation is ordered in the future that parent attend counseling with the child. These are not automatic actions taken by the Court, and they are only appropriate in very certain, almost extreme circumstances.

If you have questions about your particular situation, please feel free to contact me to discuss it.

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