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Can One Parent Deny Visitation to Another Parent?

Many folks worry that in less-than-amicable divorces, the other parent will not honor visitation schedules. The matter becomes more serious once there is a divorce decree and a court order to maintain a specific visitation schedule. Without the threat of contempt of court orders being imposed on parents, and this impacting their divorce case, some parents feel like the court-ordered visitation is just a suggestion. They could not be more wrong. Then, they feel as though they can provide some specious reasoning for denying visitation. However, they have no authority to do that either. It is important for all divorcing parents to know how non-compliant parents are handled by the Indiana courts.

Malicious Parent Syndrome/Parental Alienation Syndrome

These two terms are used to describe a parent who uses their children to harm the other parent. They can do this by talking badly about the other parent and creating a situation where the child has no desire to see the other parent. These parents use their children to “get even” with the other parent. In some cases, they may not show up for visitation appointments or allow the child to be picked up on the basis that the child does not want to see the other parent. Of course, the reason why the child does not want to see the other parent is that the custodial parent has been defaming them to the child. In some cases the allegations are false or embellished. In other cases, there may be a grain of truth, but the court has decided that the parent is still entitled to visitation, supervised or otherwise. When the actions are designed to harm the parent/child relationship, it is known as malicious parent syndrome. 

Malicious parent syndrome is not a recognized psychological disorder. However, it does have destructive consequences to the children and can lead to behavioral disorders. When a malicious parent fails to follow a court order, the parent who has been denied access can file a complaint, force the other parent to obey the order, and make up for missed parenting time. Failure to comply with the request can result in a contempt of court charge against the parent. 

Avoiding Disputes in Complex Custody Cases

To avoid the potential for a malicious parent to avoid visitation schedules, you want to be sure that your court order is properly worded. This means being specific about dates and times. If the agreement allows a malicious parent wiggle room, the malicious parent will likely use the wiggle room to deny the child access to the other parent. You will want dates and times as opposed to a casual visitation agreement.

In cases where there are allegations of substance abuse or domestic violence, the custodial parent may have some court-granted discretion to deny the children access to an inebriated parent. This would give the custodial parent broad discretion to deny visitation, so it is something you need to consider. 

Talk to an Indiana Custody Dispute Lawyer Today

Chris Arrington handles complex custody disputes involving divorced parents. Call today to discuss your situation in more detail, and we can begin collecting evidence and filing motions immediately. 

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