Find me two parents with a young child or children who are separating and you will likely find one parent asking these questions? The parent whose parenting time is frustrated by the other parent. What is the answer? According to a San Bernardino family law attorney, the answer is usually no, a parent can’t stop a child from seeing the other parent unless a court order states otherwise.
This question often comes up in the following situations:
- The parents are no longer together and the child resides with one of the parents. The parent with whom the child lives is limiting contact between the child and the other parent.
- The parents have an existing child custody and parenting time order. However, the child refuses to see one parent and the parent not seeing the child has reason to believe the other parent is encouraging this misbehavior.
- The parents have an existing court order, and a parent is violating the court order by interfering with the other parents parenting time.
Can a parent stop a child from seeing the other parent when there are no court orders?
Every practiced Orange County divorce mediator calls this gate-keeping, and two types fit what we write about in this article.
Parents who have reasonable concerns regarding the other parent may engage in protective gate-keeping.
- They do stop a child from seeing the other parent but not because of nefarious reasons.
- They do so because of reasonable concerns grounded in facts.
The key to this is the facts.
A parent without a court order technically can’t stop a child from seeing the other parent. He or she may still have concerns regarding the following:
- Substance abuse,
- Lack of anger management, and
- Lack of parenting skills
There is no perfect parent standard
What if the mother believes the father does not have her kevel of parenting skills? However, the father is otherwise capable of caring for the child without endangering the child. Is the mother’s basis to stop a child from seeing the other parent unjustified? Yes, it is.
Justification however still does not give a parent a legal basis to stop the child from seeing the other parent. The concerned parent should immediately seek appropriate child custody and visitation orders and bring his or her concerns to the attention of the court.
The parent whose contact is unreasonably prevented or limited should not stand idly by and do nothing. If her or she does nothing, the parent may establish a status quo. The status quo may make it more difficult for the court to change it in the short term.
That parent should even seek immediate child custody and visitation orders.