There is no doubt that joint parenting is difficult. Like many divorced Pennsylvania residents, your parenting style may be different from your ex’s. You may disagree with him or her on such matters as bedtime, discipline and religious beliefs. You may feel sadness and resentment over the divorce, or you could be angry because he or she is not paying child support. Any of these issues can make it tempting to not allow your ex to see the children.
As FindLaw explains, visitation times for both parents are ordered by the court. Therefore, you will likely be held in contempt of court for not allowing your ex to see the children. The consequences for withholding visitation can be severe, including losing custody of your children. It would not be a good idea to keep the children from your ex after an argument over how late they stayed up during their last visit, or if they ate too much junk food. You also do not have the right to withhold visitation to enforce child support payments.
There are valid reasons, however, to restrict your children from seeing the other parent, including the following:
- Suspected physical or sexual abuse
- Neglect, such as not feeding the children regular meals or leaving young children unattended
- The home being kept in dangerous conditions, such as a serious hoarding situation or firearms being left in children’s reach
- Drug use or alcohol abuse happening in the home with the children present
If you fear for your children’s physical safety and emotional well-being while they are at the other parent’s home, it is important to notify authorities immediately. They will tell you how to proceed and protect your children without the risk of violating a court order. This information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.