When is it OK to deny a non-custodial parent parenting time?
In certain situations, British Columbia parents may feel it is appropriate to deny parenting time to their child’s non-custodial parent despite the arrangements set forth in their divorce decree. While it may seem like they might incur punishment for withholding visitation or parenting time from the other parent, the court might, depending on the circumstances, find that a denial of parenting time was not wrongful. These exemplary circumstances are all related to the best interests of the children involved.
Guardians have a responsibility to protect their children from any harm they may suffer as a result of family violence or negligence resulting from alcohol or drug use. They may, therefore, deny parenting time to a parent whom they reasonably believe will be violent toward the child or whom they suspect has been drinking alcohol or using drugs at the time that parenting time was scheduled.
Parents who frequently fail within a 12-month period to exercise their parenting time without notice to the guardian may lose their rights to have contact with their children. In addition, parents may lose their right to parenting time if they frequently give notice that they do not intend to exercise their scheduled parenting time but then intend to exercise it without providing sufficient notice to the guardian that they changed their mind.
It is sometimes inappropriate for a scheduled parenting time to occur, such as in instances where a child is sick and needs rest to recover. Guardians who obtain a note from a doctor, nurse practitioner or other qualified medical professional may deny parenting time if the note indicates that it should not occur because of the child’s illness.
Though judges may find that parenting time was not wrongfully denied, they may decide that compensatory parenting time is appropriate. If recurring situations call for a modification to the original custody or visitation order, a family law attorney could advocate for a custodial parent seeking more custody or a non-custodial parent seeking more visitation, depending on the circumstances of the case.
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