After a divorce or parenting case, it is usual for each parent to have a share of the total time available with the children. This share is called their “parenting time.” A court order for parenting time is just that – a court order. Once it is in place, the parents are expected to follow it.
You should always follow your parenting schedule and you should never interfere with the other parent’s time. This is true even when the other parent has violated other terms of the order, such as by failing to pay their child support.
There are some limited circumstances where you may deny parenting time to your ex. Generally, however, you would have to show “good cause,” which basically means you have a very good reason to do so and also do not have time to consult with the court. An example is when you sincerely believe, for good reason, that your children would be in immediate danger of abuse or neglect if you comply with the parenting order.
In the vast majority of cases, you should not deny parenting time. If you believe your children are in danger, call your family law attorney and explain what is happening. Your lawyer may petition for an emergency hearing to modify the parenting plan.
There are consequences to denying parenting time
As with any court order, a parenting order can be enforced by the courts. If your ex accuses you of denying parenting time without good cause, there will be a hearing within 25 days to determine whether you have violated the order. If you have, the court could punish you by:
- Find you in contempt of court and fine you $100 for each violation of the order
- Order you to allow make-up sessions
- Order you to undergo parenting education at your expense
- Order the family into counseling at your expense
- Order you and your ex into mediation or another form of dispute resolution, at your expense
- Order you to pay your ex’s attorney fees
- Issuing another order to promote the best interests of the children
What if my kids refuse to go?
Sometimes, kids don’t understand that your ex’s parenting time is court ordered. They may resist, for good reasons or for childish ones. Unfortunately, a child’s resistance to parenting time is not a good enough reason to deny it.
If your child is resisting parenting time with your ex, talk seriously about why. If you suspect abuse or neglect, talk to your attorney about changing your parenting order.