young girl worried about dad leaving and holding his leg

Being a parent is no easy feat, and when you’re trying to co-parent, the challenges can be even more extreme.

Not seeing your child on a full-time basis might be heart-wrenching. You may even have concerns about the ability of your former spouse or partner to take care of your child. However, you can’t legally withhold a child from seeing the other parent without a court order.

In the legal community, preventing a child from seeing the other parent is called “parental gatekeeping.” There are three types:

  1. Protective Gatekeeping
  2. Restrictive Gatekeeping
  3. Parental Alienation

In protective gatekeeping, the parent might have legitimate safety concerns, including:

–   Substance abuse
–   Anger management
–   Violence
–   Lack of parenting skills
–   Neglect

Despite concerns for your child’s safety, you still can’t legally withhold a child from seeing the other parent. Still, you’re not helpless in this matter. Seeking legal representation to petition the courts is the recommended course of action to ensure your child’s safety.

Restrictive gatekeeping is more of an emotional response and can be due to the following:

–   Desire for revenge
–   Anger
–   Need for control

In the case of restrictive gatekeeping, the parent trying to withhold visitation is likely hurting and is lashing out. This behavior hurts both the child and the other parent. It is considered immature, and can usually be sorted quickly through the courts.

The final type of gatekeeping, parental alienation, involves one parent influencing the child’s feelings about the other parent. It is a manipulative tactic with the sole aim of destroying the relationship between the child and the other parent, usually with no grounds other than the parent’s whim or selfish intentions.

A Court Order

When one parent receives a court order, then the other parent cannot legally restrict visitation. If the parent does not comply with the directions of the court order, there are consequences. The potential consequences of violating a court order could include paying a fine, facing jail time, or both.

Are There Exceptions to the Court Order Rule?

In the case of an emergency where the safety of the child is at risk, the other parent may step forward. However, it is advisable to contact the authorities, such as the police or child protective services, first before taking action. When the threat is immediate, the parent may seek emergency child custody, which grants temporary full guardianship until the child’s environment is deemed safe to return to.

The Best Interests of Your Child

Co-parenting is a give-and-take relationship. It’s rarely easy, but it’s necessary to provide a stable and healthy environment for your child’s growth and development. Research shows that having both parents involved in the child’s life benefits the child. The only exception is when one parent puts the child’s safety and well-being at risk.

Always keep in mind what’s best for your child and act accordingly. And again, if the other parent is violating this principle, your best course of action is to speak with a family law attorney.

Like you, we want what is best for your child. We can help if you’re not able to see your child because your former partner is withholding visitation. We can assist if you would like to withhold visitation with a court order. Contact the Datz Law Firm for a consultation. Our team of experienced family lawyers in Broomfield, Colorado, is ready to help.