A parent often has to work hard for child visitation, and the last thing they want is to have something preventing it from happening as scheduled. However, sometimes it is the other parent that stands in the way of visitation, especially in situations where the divorce was particularly emotionally charged and unpleasant for everyone involved. The withholding of visitation is considered a very serious action that does have some severe consequences. A parent should never resort to stopping visitation to punish the other parent for not making child support payments or not following the set visitation agreement.
Withholding visitation is not the answer
When a custodial parent prevents a noncustodial parent from seeing his or her child, the noncustodial parent can take action. If the withholding is not happening that often, the parents should try to work together to set some make-up time for the missed visits. However, if the custodial parent refuses to cooperate, the noncustodial parent should speak to a family law attorney as soon as possible to see what actions are available. Just as a custodial parent should not prevent visitation to punish a noncustodial parent from meeting an obligation, a noncustodial parent should never withhold child support payments because he or she is being denied visitation. Child support is usually set by a court order, so the noncustodial parent who withholds it is violating that order and could face financial penalties and even jail time.
Taking the child is a huge mistake
The noncustodial parent who is not being allowed to see his or her child will naturally be upset, but this does not mean that he or she can take the child for a period that is outside the visitation agreement. This could be considered kidnapping, and the custodial parent could contact the police and file a report. In this situation, the best thing to do is to have a family law attorney issue a letter that lets the custodial parent know that visitation withholding isn’t acceptable and he or she could face court action because of it.
If the visitation is documented by a court order, the noncustodial parent can contact the police, but it is at the discretion of the officer whether the police will get involved. Often, the police will take the stance that the issue is domestic and therefore needs to be handled by the family court system instead of local law enforcement. If there is no formal court order regarding visitation or custody, the police will not get involved at all.
If a noncustodial parent or custodial parent feels their child’s health, safety or well-being is at risk when they are with the other parent, they can ask their family law attorney to get an emergency hearing regarding visitation or custody. In this type of situation, time is crucial, so the parent needs to contact their attorney as soon as possible. In the event of an emergency, such as one parent being sure their child is or will be harmed by the other parent, that worried parent should call the police as their child’s health and safety comes first and foremost.
Child custody and visitation interference is taken very seriously by the New Mexico family court system. If one parent continually prevents the other parent from seeing his or her child as agreed or ordered, that parent could even lose custody or his or her visitation rights. If you’re having a custody or visitation problem with your ex, speak to an experienced family law attorney before taking any action yourself as you could find yourself in hot water later.