In cases where a court has already issued a valid court order regarding parenting time, either parent can file a motion to restrict the other parent’s contact with the child(ren) if there exist facts to support the position that the child is in imminent physical or emotional danger due to the current parenting time schedule and/or contact with the parent. Imminent danger means currently happening or happening soon, immediate, or impending.
Upon filing of a Motion to Restrict Parenting Time, a hearing must be set and the issues heard by the court within fourteen (14) days, so long as the court finds that the motion adequately states, with particularity, the basis for seeking to restrict parenting time. Until the case is heard and ruled upon by the court, the restricted parent’s parenting time will be supervised by an unrelated third party deemed suitable by the court or by a licensed mental health professional. However, if the motion itself does not state with particularity the basis for seeking to restrict parenting time, the court can deny it outright without a hearing.
At hearing, the moving party will need to prove that the child is in imminent physical, psychological and emotional danger if any contact between the child and restricted parent were to continue. If the court agrees with the moving party, the court can enter any such restriction and conditions deemed necessary to ensure the safety and welfare of the child is protected. Since the courts recognize that parents may seek to file a motion to restrict in retaliation or without the requisite legal basis, there can be financial consequences to the moving party. If a parent files a Motion to Restrict and the court finds that the filing of that Motion was frivolous, substantially groundless or substantially vexatious, the court must order the moving party pay the reasonable and necessary attorney fees and costs associated with the restricted parents efforts to defend against the Motion to Restrict. However, if the moving parent has met the threshold necessary to support the filing of the motion, they will likely not be ordered to pay any of the restricted parent’s attorney’s fees and costs. Because of the legal ramifications involved in these types of motions, it is important to seek competent legal advice to ensure the rights of the parent are protected and to minimize any financial repercussions in taking such action.
Denise M. Minish, Esq.