When Can a Custodial Parent Deny Visitation?

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90% of custody agreements are made without the need for a court ruling. Following a divorce, the court can award custody to one parent, both, or deny visitation to the non-custodial parent. Visitation is denied by the court when the non-custodial parent poses a threat to the children. Threats include abusive behavior, drug use, or likely neglect.

In most cases, each parent is required by law to respect the court’s decision under penalty of contempt of court. However, the custodial parent can illegally deny contact with children in certain circumstances. The reasons are the same for a court’s decision for non-visitation rights.

You cannot deny contact without cause or reason and in cases where you do, you will likely need to provide evidence under penalty of contempt of court.

This article covers the following:

  • Denial of Visitation
  • When Can a Custodial Parent Deny Visitation Legally
  • The Ramifications of Denying Visitation Without Cause

Denial of visitation can be invoked in specific circumstances. These include safety concerns where children are in potential danger. Care should be taken if denial violates a court order.

If you need visitation advice The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl can help.

Denial of Visitation

Child custody arrangements are usually made as part of a visitation schedule in a divorce settlement. Where children are involved, their welfare is always the primary concern when making custody decisions. When child custody has been granted to one of the parents they are then responsible for the children under court-ordered arrangements such as:

  • Fixed: the court decides specific days and times the non-custodial parent can see the children.
  • Reasonable: a flexible arrangement between both parties that sets times and dates to suit both.
  • Supervised: appointed visits with a third-party mediator in case of child endangerment.

In extreme circumstances, visitation can be denied by the court. This happens if there is a demonstrable danger to children. Such dangers include previous abuse, drug or alcohol use, neglect, or an unsafe environment.

The custodial parent can deny visitation to the non-custodial parent. In these cases, the reasons must be justified and evidence is required. However, you should be aware that this is illegal.

When You Can Legally Deny Visitation

Denying visitation to a non-custodial parent could see you in contempt of court since visitation rights are legally binding. You cannot legally deny visitation. Should you have a genuine concern for the safety of your children then you can deny visitation but evidence must be provided to the court as soon as possible. If in doubt, consult an attorney as soon as you can.

Under no circumstances should you deny access for malicious reasons. These reasons include retaliation, anger over divorce proceedings, personal feelings towards the other party, punishment for a missed appointment, or non-payment of child support.

Any of these reasons will not be accepted for denying visitation to a non-custodial parent.

The Ramifications of Denying Visitation Without Cause

When can a custodial parent deny visitation? The short answer is, never. You should always try to adhere to the visitation schedule in a divorce agreement as best you can. Not doing this can give the non-custodial parent grounds for revisiting child custody arrangements. It could also hold you in contempt of court. This is punishable by fines and possible jail time with a criminal record.

Any concerns that you have should be relayed to your lawyer who will then present these issues to the court on your behalf. The court can then amend visitation based upon genuine and reliable evidence.

If you have any doubts or queries then don’t hesitate to call The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl.


During and following a divorce proceeding, visitation schedules are applied to child custody. As a custodial parent, you have no legal right to deny visitation to a non-custodial parent. You can deny visitation in cases where you believe your children are in danger but doing so is illegal.

Should you deny visitation you will be in contempt of court and therefore subject to applicable punishment as allowed by law. This includes hefty fines and possible jail time. For these reasons, you should never withhold visitation for malicious, unjustified, or unproven reasons.

Any concerns over child safety should be submitted to your lawyer and subsequently to the court.

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