How a Father Can Lose Visitation Rights

father holding hand of toddler son walker on the beach

The idea that a father might never see their child again is shocking, but there are times when courts deem this appropriate. Separated parents rarely share custody of children, with one being the custodial parent. This individual often lives with the children, retaining more custody rights than the other parent.

The noncustodial parent is granted visitation rights, which are specific times when they can see the children. While each arrangement is different, none are set in stone. A court can decide to take away visitation rights for a variety of reasons. Here’s what you need to know. 

Danger to the Child

The most common scenario is when the court identifies the father as a danger to the child. This is a cut and dry ruling based on evidence presented during a trial. Fathers will lose visitation rights or find them severely restricted if:

  • They have sexually abused the child, including molestation
  • The father is likely to kidnap the child
  • Physical, emotional, or mental abuse toward the child is present
  • The father uses illegal drugs or drinks excessively when the child is in their care

This decision must be made by the court. Any child custody lawyer will tell you that it is illegal for the other parent to deny visitation rights without the court’s permission. Not only is this action illegal, it carries serious legal repercussions. 

Other Common Reasons

Outside of posing a danger to the child, there are plenty of other reasons that father could find their visitation rights in jeopardy. A previous child abuse conviction, fear of abduction, and drug or alcohol abuse are the most serious. You’re also likely to lose custodial rights if you are incarcerated.  

After that, courts will revoke visitation rights almost immediately if the father does not pay child support. The list from here on out gets trickier, with varying states and courts making different rulings. For instance, a DUI offense can be enough in some states. In others, hiring a qualified DUI defense attorney will help you retain visitation rights. 

Parents can bring into question new relationships, but usually must cite immediate danger from the new partner towards the child. A previous sex offender, for instance, would constitute a loss of visitation. In some instances, religious differences have been enough for courts to change custody rulings as well. 

Repeated visitation violations are another cause for removal of your rights. Even if you follow the rules, the court could deem that visitation is causing severe distress to the child. This often takes a psychiatrist to determine, but remember that divorce takes its toll on children as well. 

Finally, your child can choose that they no longer wish to see you or the other parent. As long as the child is old enough by state or federal statutes, the court must honor their decision. This situation is difficult, but either parent must comply with the child’s wishes. 

You have the right to see your children according to the guidelines the court has set. Any violation of those guidelines is illegal, giving you the right to argue for increased rights in court. Speak with an attorney immediately if you think your rights as a father have been violated.