When a divorce in California involving children results in one parent being awarded sole or primary custody, the other parent often has court-ordered visitations. While the purpose of this step is to keep both parents in a child’s life post-divorce, there are sometimes circumstances involved that may cause the custodial parent to wonder if they can refuse to send their kids for scheduled visits. For instance, a child may report spending more time with a former spouse’s new partner during visits, or the custodial parent might have concerns about an ex’s history of domestic violence.

After child custody issues have been worked out, courts generally try to maintain arrangements that keep the child involved with both parents. Not liking the way the child spends their time with the other parent isn’t reason enough to revoke or limit visitations. However, it is possible to offer evidence that a child is at risk physically or emotionally in order to suspend or alter visitation arrangements.

When a parent believes their child is in serious or immediate danger, as may be the case if a child returned home from previous visits with unexplained bruises or if the former spouse lives in bad neighborhood, it’s generally considered reasonable for them to refuse to allow their child to go on scheduled visits with the non-custodial parent. Doing so may lead to contempt of court charges. If this happens, the custodial parent will have an opportunity to present their reasons for not allowing visits along with any evidence they may have during a hearing.

Before seeking child custody modification or adjustments with a visitation schedule, a family law attorney may attempt to reach a reasonable resolution. If the main issue is concern over the non-custodial parent not properly using a car seat, for example, it may be possible to arrange for them to receive instruction on how to correct this problem. With more serious matters, solutions may include ordering the other parent to attend anger management classes, requiring them to move to a safer neighborhood if they want visitations to continue, or modifying visitations so they are supervised.