Legal Blog

Child Custody and Visitation: Is It Ever OK to Deny Access?

Parenting after divorce leads to big questions. Child custody and access is one of the biggest. This topic can easily become one of the most emotionally charged, and some even give in to the urge to use their children to hurt the former spouse. Frequently, this problem manifests itself in the form of a parent with physical custody refusing to allow the other parent to have access to the children in retaliation for any number of possible offenses, the most common being failure to pay child support.

While this behavior may seem logical at the time, it is contrary to the law. The rule of thumb is, that when there is an agreement or a court order, it needs to be followed. For example, one may think the parent who fails to pay child support doesn’t deserve to spend time with the child. In fact, the two issues are legally unrelated. In other words, the custodial parent does not have the right to refuse access to another parent who has been granted access based on a failure to pay child support. Neither can you refuse to allow your children to spend the weekend with your former spouse because you don’t like his new wife, or her children.

In an extraordinary circumstance, you may believe that access should be denied. Typically, these cases involve a parent who genuinely fears that the child is in imminent danger when in the care of the other parent. To get to that point however, you should contact legal counsel, you should enlist the assistance of the court, you may choose to involve a third person or the police. Denial of access may carry severe consequences for the person who denies the access and any decision to deny access requires the consideration of a broad spectrum of factors.

Refusing access can be painful and difficult for all of the parties involved. It is rarely the right thing to do. Before making a decision to disallow a parent’s access, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Am I doing this to punish the other parent?
  • Do I feel a sense of satisfaction in refusing access?
  • Is what I am doing helping my children to grow up healthy physically AND mentally?
  • Am I creating drama where none is needed?

The best way to ensure you avoid these problems is by establishing a good child custody and access arrangement from the time of separation. Solid legal advice is a great place to start. I can provide you with expert advice in divorce litigation and mediation to help you iron out the painful parts and make an arrangement that you can all live with.


If you need help with any issue regarding child custody and access, please contact Linda Sorg Ostovitz at or 301-575-0381.




Linda Sorg Ostovitz is a family law attorney. Her legal experience spans more than 34 years. In this time, she has served as a leader, educator and advocate. Mrs. Ostovitz holds a prestigious fellowship in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Currently, she serves as President for the Business Women’s Network of Howard County, by which she was chosen Woman of Distinction for 2014. Mrs. Ostovitz represents clients in Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll and Baltimore Counties. Her practice focuses exclusively on divorce litigation and mediation, child custody and access, child support, alimony, business valuation, as well as property and asset distribution. In addition to providing legal representation in court, Mrs. Ostovitz provides mediation services to help families come to a fair and legally-sound conclusion outside of the traditional court proceedings.



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