Summertime can throw a cog in the wheel of otherwise well-functioning visitation agreements between divorced parents. The long days with children out of school necessitate changes in childcare arrangements, and often increase the expenses that parents must pay.
To complicate things further, children often resent having to uproot their lives in order to exercise visitation with their non-custodial parents, especially if the visitation takes place in locations far from their friends.
Can you refuse visitation?
Some parents (and children) may become so upset over summer visitation schedules that they decide to take matters into their own hands and refuse to engage in visitation with the non-custodial parent.
But do they have the right to do so?
Generally speaking, without going to court for a visitation modification based on substantial changes to life circumstances, they do not have that right.
The court determines custody and visitation based on what is in the best interests of the children. Barring egregious incidences of neglect or abuse, the Ohio family court system typically finds that children do better when they are allowed reasonable contact and visitation with both of their parents. Therefore, interruptions of those visitations tend to be viewed harshly by the courts.
Some exceptions apply
Sometimes new information comes to light after custody and visitation orders have been drafted and signed that can make exercising visitation problematic or even dangerous.
For instance, a parent who previously was only a social drinker could descend into the depths of alcoholism. A legitimate injury that was treated by prescription opioid drugs can be the catalyst for a devastating pattern of addiction that splinters parent and child relationships.
The non-custodial parent may begin an intimate relationship with a partner who has a history as a sex offender or who has other felony convictions that makes them a danger to the children. Sometimes the new partner's children may be the ones who are bullying or otherwise abusing the children of the divorced couple.
It is in the type of circumstances noted above that custodial parents have the right — and indeed, the obligation — to protect their children from potential abuse and harm by withholding visitation privileges until a court can review and modify the order.
What circumstances do not apply
Kids can be demanding, and may attempt to refuse visitation with their other parent simply because they find it inconvenient to be separated from friends, or boyfriends or girlfriends, while with their non-custodial parents.
They may resent that one parent doesn't have all of the amenities to offer them that they have become accustomed to with their custodial parent, e.g., the latest electronic equipment, access to swimming pools or tennis courts or even something as basic as their own private bedroom.
Unfortunately for the kiddos, that is just a fact of life to which they must adjust. The same applies when they have a less-than-stellar relationship with their parent's new spouse or significant other. Custodial parents should do all they can to encourage their children to visit their other parents willingly to avoid running into legal difficulties with the Ohio family court system.