Common grounds for denying visitation in New Jersey
In many disputes between parents, both parents are awarded joint legal and physical custody. Legal custody determines who makes long-term decisions about the child’s health, education, and religious upbringing. Physical custody determines where the child lives each day of the year. Generally, parents either need to reach a parenting plan regarding custody and visitation or the family judge will enter an order regarding custody and visitation.
Generally, the parent who has sole custody or has the bulk (about 5/7 or 72%) of joint custody time is considered the custodial parent. The other parent’s right to spend time with their child is called visitation – though New Jersey more formally uses the terms primary parent of residence and alternate parent of residence. The parenting plan sets for the time the noncustodial parent will have visitation/residency rights with their child/children.
In considering the reasons to deny child visitation, the courts always consider the best interests of the children first. If a parent/spouse has concerns about their child spending time with the other parent, that parent can request a review of the other parent’s right to visitation or a termination of visitation rights if visitation rights have already been granted.
Generally, the main reasons to deny child visitation include any conduct that places the child’s life in danger. The reasons to withhold visitation begin with a consideration of whether the child is in danger of any immediate physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. If abuse is raised, the family law judge will normally request that an investigation be conducted by a child psychologist or other authorized court personnel. After the investigation, the judge will conduct a hearing to determine if sufficient grounds for losing visitation based on abuse are present.
Our skilled lawyers work with parents by explaining what evidence is required to show the other parent is a threat to their children. Signs that indicate when you can deny visitation to the non-custodial parent include bruises, scarring, or any physical contact that might require a visit to an emergency room or a family doctor. Emotional signs may include withdrawal, anxiety, and depression. Signs of sexual abuse are often a combination of physical and emotional signs that a doctor can examine.
One of the other reasons to deny child visitation includes substance abuse. If a parent is abusing drugs or alcohol, that type of abuse may threaten a child. You do have the right to seek a termination of visitation rights if the parent with visitation rights needs substance abuse help. Generally, an evaluation will need to be made as to whether the parent is abusing drugs or alcohol and whether the level of abuse affects the child’s well-being. A non-custodial parent may forfeit visitation if he/she has a serious substance abuse problem.
New Jersey does have a statute that provides another reason to deny child visitation is if a parent is convicted of sexual assault, then that person:
“shall not be awarded the custody of or visitation rights to any minor child, including a minor child who was born as a result of or was the victim of the sexual assault, except upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interest of the child for custody or visitation rights to be awarded.”
When your reasons to deny child visitation should be presented to the family law judge
Generally, if there is a valid parenting plan agreement or court order, a parent needs to submit the reasons to deny overnight visitation to the family court with the help of an experienced Clinton and Morristown family lawyer. Parents who deny visitation on their own run the risk that the other parent may file their own court action seeking to hold you in contempt. The tail that wags the dog is the safety of your child and the court’s determination of what is in the child’s best interests.
It is generally a good idea to consult with an experienced family lawyer before considering taking away visitation rights. It may also be a good idea to alert the police before you terminate any rights in case an abusive parent becomes violent.
There are a few other considerations when examining the reasons to deny child visitation to another parent.
- The issue of – can a child refuse to go to visitation – may be considered when reviewing the reasons to deny child visitation. Generally, parents need to make arrangements for their children to see the other parent if there is a custody and visitation order. However, if a child is extremely upset due to fears about being with a parent who is abusive, you should call a seasoned family lawyer for advice.
- The court may consider a supervised visitation schedule so that the other parent can see his/her child but only under the watchful eye of a court official or a trusted family member.
At DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law, our family lawyers understand the reasons to deny child visitation. We explain when the reasons to deny child visitation are valid and when they’re not. If you do have valid reasons to deny child visitation, we file and pursue the appropriate court actions on your behalf. To discuss all the reasons to deny child visitation, call us at 908-691-2104 or fill out our contact form to learn your rights. We have offices in Clinton and Morristown.