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Could states take steps to safeguard visitation rights?

Many Pennsylvania noncustodial parents understand the struggles of being a parent after a divorce. Visitation with the children can seem like water in a desert for a parent that wants to remain as much a part of their lives as possible. Unfortunately, short of taking the custodial parent back to court on contempt allegations, few safeguards exist to ensure that noncustodial parents get to spend time with their children.

The legislature of one south central state is considering a law that would make it easier to hold custodial parents accountable if court-ordered visitation is denied to the noncustodial parent. First, the custodial parent would be responsible for providing a copy of the court-ordered schedule outlining visitation to noncustodial parents who are current on their child support. Failure to provide the schedule would result in a fine.

Further, if a noncustodial parent is not granted the visitation as outlined in the schedule, that parent may notify the court by filing a designated form. Proponents of the Oklahoma bill point out that repercussions exist for non-payment of child support, which is often touted as being an integral part of the parenting process. It could be argued that just as important, if not more so, is the right of a child to have access to both parents on a regular basis. After all, the child should not have to suffer because his or her parents did not feel they could be together any longer.

Even if the bill is passed, withholding visitation of the noncustodial parent without a valid reason could have consequences for the custodial parent that may require another trip to family court. It remains to be seen if this type of legislation would have any place in custody and support matters here in Pennsylvania. Regardless, noncustodial parents may still seek relief through the courts to fight for their rights to see their children if they are denied court-ordered visitation.

Source: kfor.com, Noncustodial visitation rights bill moves to House, Bailey Woolum, Feb. 19, 2014

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