You were awarded sole custody of your child in your divorce, but your ex has visitation rights. You want to abide by the court order, and you know that it’s important for your child to maintain a relationship with your co-parent. However, you’re concerned about the safety and well-being of your child during those visits.
Perhaps your child is extremely anxious prior to the visits or tells you they don’t want to go, but can’t (or won’t) explain why. Maybe you’ve seen or heard things that concern you. Your child may have told you that they see their other parent and their friends drinking during the visits. Maybe your child’s clothes smell like cigarettes when they return home.
Can you refuse to turn your child over for these visitations? The only way you can do that without being in contempt of court is if you reasonably believe your child will be in imminent danger if they’re with their other parent. Perhaps your child told you something that leads you to believe they’re being abused in that home, for example.
If the situation you’re concerned about is something your ex can fix, talk with them. You can tell them that you don’t want them to smoke around your child, for example. If you’ve talked with your ex about whatever your concerns are and they’ve done nothing to change the situation, you may need to return to court to seek their intervention, to ask for supervised visitation or to end visitation completely, depending on the circumstances.
If your concerns are simply around a difference in parenting styles (like what time your child should go to bed or how often they can eat fast food), a judge likely isn’t going to modify your co-parent’s visitation privileges. Things like that might be better addressed by putting more detail in the parenting plan.
If your ex is putting your child in a situation that’s unhealthy or dangerous, you can seek to revoke their visitation rights – at least while the court investigates the matter. What you shouldn’t do is stop allowing visitations without court approval.
If you have concerns about what is happening during your child’s visitations with your co-parent, talk with your attorney. They can help you determine what your next steps should be.