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Reasons a parent can lose their visitation rights

When a romantic relationship between two adults is over, it is natural that both parties will go their separate ways. However, things are never quite over if there are children involved. During the divorce or separation process, the court may grant one parent the primary custody of the children while the other parent gets visitation rights. This is known as a custody order.

However, it is important to understand that a custody order is never permanent. Either party may petition the court to review and revise an existing custody order. Here are common reasons why the court may strip a parent of their visitation rights.

Violation of existing custody order

A custody order is a binding decree that must be obeyed by both parties. Besides losing your visitation rights, the court may also punish you for violating the existing custody order. Some of the ways a parent may violate the custody order include:

  • Consistently refusing to return the child to the custodial parent
  • Kidnapping the child
  • Alienating the child from the custodial parent

To prove a violation of the custody order, the custodial parent must provide specific evidence such as the dates the other parent kidnapped or failed to return the child on time or the specific behaviors that amount to parental alienation.

Risk of harm to the child

A parent can be deemed unfit and thus lose their visitation rights if it is established that they pose a risk of harm to the child. These may include the risk of sexual, emotional and physical abuse or neglect. 

A parent who has been diagnosed with mental illness may also lose their visitation rights for the duration of the illness. The same applies to a parent who has a serious drug and substance addiction that renders them unable to care for the child.

Every parent has a right to a healthy relationship with their child. Find out more if you are accused of violating a custody order or believe your ex has.