The Fastest Way to Restore Visitation if Denied in Missouri

by Beverly Bird

Section 452.400.1 of the Missouri Revised Statutes mandates that when parents separate, the non-custodial parent should have reasonable access to their child. All divorce decrees must include a detailed visitation schedule to ensure this. But, sometimes, things go wrong post-divorce. If your ex is interfering with your visitation, the Missouri court system provides you with immediate help. However, if the court rescinded your visitation rights, it will take more time and effort to restore them.

Visitation Suspended by Court

Missouri courts may terminate or suspend your visitation rights under egregious circumstances. For example, if you or someone in your household is convicted of a felony sexual offense against a child, the law requires a judge rescind your visitation rights. The court won’t expose your child to anyone who has harmed a minor. However, the state’s intention to maintain meaningful contact between non-custodial parents and their children manifests in less extreme circumstances. Judges have discretion with issues of domestic violence and they generally will not completely terminate your visitation rights if you’re guilty of such an offense. They'll usually suspend your time with your child to give you an opportunity for rehabilitation or they may order supervised visitation in the presence of a third party to protect your child.

Interference With Visitation

If your child’s custodial parent denies you visitation, courts in Missouri want to know about it. Your ex has no legal right to do this. You may be faced with a situation where she’s blatantly told you that you’re not going to see your child or her interference might be more subtle. For example, whenever you go to pick up your child for visitation, you might find that no one is home or your child might frequently have other scheduled plans that conflict with your visitation times. In both cases, Missouri courts consider this “noncompliance” with a court order and impose penalties.

Restoring Visitation With the Court

You can usually restore your rights when the court rescinds your visitation, provided you’re not the individual with a felony conviction for a sexual offense against a child. If it's someone else, you can remove that person from your home immediately. You must then file a motion with the court asking for restoration of your visitation rights. It generally takes a few weeks to get a hearing and your ex can ask for additional time to allow her to file a written objection to your request. However, if you've fixed what went wrong, the court will usually restore your visitation. When other issues are the source of the problem, such as domestic violence, you can also file a motion with the court for restoration of your privileges. However, you must usually seek treatment first and successfully complete a rehabilitation program, such as anger management or drug or alcohol counseling. This might take months, but it's usually your only option.

Remedies for Interference

If your ex is interfering with your visitation, you can begin fixing the problem immediately. Go to the courthouse that issued your divorce decree. File a family access motion to enforce your court-ordered visitation time. The state provides easy forms for doing so and they do not require an attorney’s assistance. This expedites the motion process so you don't lose too much time with your child. The law requires Missouri courthouses to post notices directing you to the proper office for accomplishing this process. When you file your motion, you can request several things from the judge. You can ask the court to impose a fine on your ex for her failure to abide by the court order and request “make up” time with your child to replace the time your ex denied you. If the problem has been ongoing, you can ask the court to require counseling to help reunify you with your child. However, you may have to wait two weeks or so for your scheduled motion hearing for an official order.