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What to Do If the Custodial Parent Withholds Visitation


Colorado Family Court makes all decisions with the best interests of the child as their highest priority. When it comes to child custody and visitation decisions, the court always begins with the rebuttable presumption that continued close contact with both parents is in a child’s best interest.

If you are a non-custodial parent with visitation, you know that every moment with your child counts. If your child’s other parent refuses to allow you your court-ordered visitation time with the children, you have a right to seek enforcement measures.

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First, Carefully Review the Terms of Your Child Custody/Parenting Time Agreement

Before you make any legal moves, it’s best to scrutinize your child custody orders to ensure that you clearly understand the terms of the agreement. You should be certain that the times you’ve sought visitation were within your allotted parenting time on the schedule. If you have the schedule correct and your child’s other parent still denies your visitation rights they are in violation of a court order.

Try to Communicate Calmly and Clearly With the Other Parent

Before you take legal action against a parent refusing you your court-ordered visitation, you should first make an attempt to reach out and communicate. It’s helpful to know what the problem is in the other parent’s eyes and if it’s something you can settle without the court’s involvement. Remind the other parent that they may not withhold visitation without presenting a case for denial to a judge.

Begin Documenting Interactions and Communication With the Other Parent

Before filing for enforcement measures, you’ll have to have clear and concise information, including the dates and times of the other parent’s refusals, your attempts at communication, and the other parent’s responses. Keep all your written communications such as texts and emails. You should also keep notes on the other parent’s reactions, the reasons they give for withholding visitation, and the number of times they’ve disregarded your visitation rights.

Hire a Family Law Attorney in Colorado

If the other parent continues to illegally violate the terms of your child custody/visitation agreement, you have a right to take legal action. A Fort Collins family law lawyer can help you compile records and file a court motion seeking enforcement measures against your ex-spouse. It’s important to gather evidence to show the judge not only the dates and times you’ve been denied your court-ordered visitation, but also that being separated from your children is not in their best interests.

Your family lawyer may arrange for mediation attempts with your ex-spouse to try to resolve the matter before it goes to court. In some cases, ex-spouses may work out their differences without the need for a judge. If the case goes to court, the judge may recommend further mediation before reviewing the case and making a decision. 

How Do Courts Enforce Visitation?

Colorado courts have legal remedies available to enforce your court-ordered visitation rights. Enforcement measures may include fines levied against the other parent, additional parenting time awarded to you to make up for lost days, and contempt of court charges if the other parent still does not comply. Contempt charges may include additional fines, jail time, and probation. 

If the subject of a court order, such as a shared parenting time agreement in Colorado, refuses to comply, you have legal remedies available. An important element of deciding on child custody in Colorado is each parent’s willingness to facilitate an ongoing close relationship between the other parent and their child. A court may consider changing a child custody order if a parent refuses to comply with the other parent’s court-ordered visitation rights.

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