As many Michigan parents know, navigating parenting after a split can be sensitive and complicated. In many cases, there is a court-mandated visitation schedule designed to make sure that the child continues their relationship with both parents. However, if there are concerns, a parent might consider refusing visitation. The risk, of course, is being held in contempt of the court-ordered visitation schedule. A parent has to be careful and thoughtful about how to handle the situation and consider if their concern is serious enough to risk being held in contempt.

While the court always prefers that the visitation schedule is followed, some concerns are serious enough for a parent to act in refusing visitation. True concerns include fear for the child’s safety if the other parent lives in a high-crime area, fear of the child being abused if there is a history or domestic violence, and fears related to a parent’s drug or alcohol abuse. There are also times a child will refuse visitation. In the last case, the child cannot be forced to follow the visitation schedule.

With the previous concerns, the worried parent, who might hold primary child custody, should document and support their concerns in order to demonstrate in court that their fears were real. This is where reflection needs to take place as the judge might decide to keep the visitation schedule the same if the parent cannot prove that there is reason for concern. If the concerns can be resolved between amicable parents, it is best to go that route since the problem could be more easily addressed.

Concerned parents might also consult a lawyer with family law experience. A lawyer may advise about which steps they can take and what their legal rights are so that parents can better protect their children.