Often when divorced parents fight about time spent with the children, it is not really time spent with the children that they are fighting about. Instead, it is usually one (or sometimes both) of the parents using the children to get back at the other parent. This often leads to the primary residential parent refusing to let the other parent visit with the children according to the schedule ordered by the court. If you find yourself in that situation, what should you do?
When your ex is denying you visitation, before you hire a lawyer, write to your ex. This can be by email, text message, or certified mail, but write to him/her in some manner in which you can show that the message got to him/her. In that message, remind them about the visitation schedule. Then describe the ways in which the other parent's behavior is inconsistent with that schedule. Keep your description limited to what you can observe and refrain from petty name calling, disparaging remarks, or what you believe the motivations for these behaviors. In your message set out the specific time and place where you will be to visit with the children on the next scheduled visit in accordance with the court order.
Be at the appointed place and time. If, after twenty minutes or so, the ex does not show, do not get mad or make a scene. If the meeting place is at a business you might purchase something of nominal value and save the receipt or even bring a witness; something to prove you were there and on time. Then write the ex a second message. Again, just like before, confine your comments to behaviors you can observe and do not go into the ex's possible motivations. If the ex does not show at the second appointed time and place, then it is time to contact a lawyer.
The lawyer can file a motion for rule to show cause. This is a motion that is filed when you believe the other party is violating the court's order. You are asking the court to order the other person to appear before the court and explain (or "show cause") why he/she should not be held in contempt of court. Sanctions from the court for contempt could be anything from a slap on the wrist, to fines, an award of attorney fees, and even jail time. However, this is a court proceeding and the truth is whatever can be proven in court. If you follow these steps you will have your proof and show the judge the truth.
Photo courtesy of potential past
Labels: child custody, contempt, custody, divorce, non-residential, primary residential parent, rule to show cause, time sharing, visitation