Tulsa Attorney BlogCan Visitation Be Denied Due to the Coronavirus?

Parents have Rights to Visitation Under most Circumstances

Video Transcribed: Can your visitation be denied due to the coronavirus? I’m Tulsa attorney James Wirth and we’re about to talk about visitation and COVID-19.

We’ve been getting a lot of calls in the last a few days from parents who get visitation normally, but are being denied visitation from the other side saying that it’s a danger to transport the child, or have the child in more than one house, or some other circumstances.

Then there’s also some information out there that there’s limited access to the courts right now because they are shutting down in some respects.

What can you do under those circumstances? What are you entitled to do? Well, first off, just because we’ve got the coronavirus going on that it by itself is not enough to say that the other party doesn’t get visitation.

Tulsa lawyer James M. WirthThe child is still allowed to go back and forth and travel from one house to the other house.

You’re going to need much more specific facts to show that the child is in danger to get an emergency which could alter the order.

The courts are open to hear emergencies, but to get an emergency to deny someone visitation, you would have to assert that there is imminent danger of irreparable harm.

The general situation of the coronavirus spreading is not going to be enough by itself. You’re going to need more specifics to make that argument.

Now, if you are in a circumstance where your visitation is being denied, what can you do? Well, first off, obviously you want to talk to the other party.

You want to get documentation through email, text message, however that’s communicating documented to show that they’re denying visitation.

Then at that point you’re probably going to want to consult with an attorney. The two options we’d look at generally when visitation is wrongfully denied is a motion to enforce visitation and an application for contempt citation. They both serve different purposes.

The application for contempt citation, that’s more punitive to get enforcement of the order. What that basically says is that you violated the court order and that’s contempt of court.

That could lead up to six months imprisonment. You need to do what you need to do to follow the court’s orders so you don’t risk going to jail for six months.

The problem with that, it puts a lot of pressure on, but the problem is it takes a long time to get to court on that. You’d have to do an arraignment first, and then you go forward to a pretrial, and ultimately a trial. They could demand a jury trial on it. It takes a long time to get that done.

The other option that we do concurrently with that as a motion to enforce visitation. It’s not as punitive, doesn’t have the possibility of jail time, but the beauty of it is that the statute requires a hearing or ordered mediation within 21 days.

It’s got a deadline to get into court more quickly. Those are the things that we would want to do. Also, because it has that 21 day deadline, we would argue that even during these times with the court is mostly closed because of that deadline.

That’s an indication that there is legislative intent to get into court on it quickly. We would want something like that heard before the court, even when most things are not allowed to be heard right now.

There’s mechanisms that could be set up to do hearings via Skype, FaceTime, whatever the case may be, but that’s what we’d be looking for.

Overall, coronavirus by itself, not a basis to deny visitation. If that’s happening to you, you going to want more than this general information you’re going to want a consultation with an attorney regarding your specifics.

To get that consultation, you can visit my website at makelaweasy.com and contact us through that.

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