Parenting plans are often put in place to establish the rights and responsibilities of both parents after a divorce or separation. These plans include visitation schedules for both parents, with specific times and dates for the non-custodial parent to spend time with their child.
While both parents are expected to stick to the parenting plan, things can sometimes come up that make it impossible for one parent to comply. In this article, we’ll take a look at what happens if the non-custodial parent misses visitation, and the legal ramifications that can result.
Reasons for Missed Visitation
In some cases, the non-custodial parent may miss visitation due to unforeseen circumstances. Illness, car trouble, or other emergencies can all prevent a parent from being able to spend time with their child according to the visitation schedule. However, in most cases, missed visitation is a result of non-compliance by the non-custodial parent. Some common reasons why a non-custodial parent may fail to adhere to the visitation schedule include:
- Work obligations
- Personal conflicts
- Lack of interest in spending time with the child
- Reconciliation issues with the custodial parent
- Inability to meet financial responsibilities associated with visitation
The Legal Consequences of Missed Visitation
While a non-custodial parent may have a legitimate reason for missing visitation, failing to comply with the visitation schedule without a valid excuse can have serious legal consequences. The custodial parent can file for a contempt of court, which can result in:
- Monetary fines
- Modification of the visitation schedule
- Loss of custody or termination of parental rights
- Issuance of a warrant for the non-custodial parent’s arrest
What to Do if the Non-Custodial Parent Misses Visitation
If the non-custodial parent misses visitation, the custodial parent has a few options available to them. The first step is to try to communicate with the non-custodial parent and find out why they missed the scheduled visitation. If the non-custodial parent has a valid excuse, the custodial parent may be able to work with them to find an alternative time to spend with the child.
If the non-custodial parent does not have a valid excuse, the custodial parent can file a motion for contempt of court. This will start the legal process and allow the custodial parent to request that the non-custodial parent be held in contempt for failing to adhere to the visitation schedule. It’s important to note that if the non-custodial parent has a valid excuse, filing for contempt of court may not be necessary, and could even backfire on the custodial parent.
Maintaining Communication and Healthy Relationships
While missed visitation can be frustrating for both parents, it’s important to maintain open lines of communication and work together to find a resolution. Custodial parents should make an effort to keep the non-custodial parent informed about their child’s life, including important events and milestones. This helps to build a healthy relationship between the two parents, which can make it easier to address any missed visitation in a productive manner.
Non-custodial parents should make an effort to be present in their child’s life, even when they’re not able to spend time with them in person. This could include sending cards or letters, video chatting, or even sending small gifts for special occasions. By staying involved, even from a distance, non-custodial parents can help maintain a healthy relationship with their child.
While missed visitation can be frustrating and disappointing for both parents and their children, it’s important to understand the legal consequences that can result from non-compliance with the parenting plan.
Both parents should make an effort to communicate and work together to find a resolution, and non-custodial parents should make an effort to stay involved in their child’s life, even when they’re not able to be physically present. By doing so, they can maintain a healthy relationship with their child and avoid legal repercussions.