In a divorce involving a couple with children, the court issues an order listing each parent's visitation and custody rights. In some cases, a parent may violate a custody order by preventing the other parent from visiting with the child. If your co-parent is withholding visitation, you should consult a family law or divorce lawyer that deals with child custody cases regularly. Here are some frequently asked questions about violations of child visitation orders.
Does Suspicion of Neglect or Abuse Justify Withholding Visitation?
Many cases of neglect or abuse don't happen in front of a witness. Unless a co-parent witnesses that their child is in imminent harm, they have no reason to prevent visitation. So, if you have reason to believe that your child is being neglected or abused, you need to go through the appropriate legal channels to prove that their other co-parent should be denied visitation.
The first step you need to take is to document evidence regarding your allegations. The next step is to petition the court to adjust the custody order and also request a protective order to prevent the accused co-parent from seeing the child.
What If a Child Doesn't Want to Visit With You?
When a child says they don't want to visit you, it doesn't invalidate the custody order. The court awards visitation based on the best interests of the child. Moreover, your ex-spouse shouldn't turn your child against you or try to manipulate them to refuse visitation. The custodial parent should ensure that the child visits with the other co-parent according to the visitation agreement.
What Steps Should You Take to Enforce a Visitation Order?
To enforce a visitation order, you should take the following steps with the assistance of your child custody attorney:
- Document missed visitation time: Maintain a record of every time you have been denied child visitation. Also, document any correspondence with your ex-spouse regarding your right to visitation. All of this will be used to prove your case against them.
- Try and settle the issue with your ex-spouse: Before going to court, try and resolve the issue with your co-parent. If the issue rarely occurs, you can agree on a schedule to make up for the missed time.
- Have your child custody lawyer draft and send a demand letter: If your co-parent is reluctant to schedule make-up dates, have your lawyer send them a letter. The letter should indicate your willingness to resolve the matter peacefully without going to court, but will still demonstrate your commitment to the matter and provide a warning that you are willing to escalate to court proceedings if needed.
- Go to court: If your co-parent still refuses to obey the visitation order, your child custody attorney should file a motion asking the court to enforce the visitation order. In court, your lawyer will present the evidence of your missed time and your attempts to resolve the issue. The court can schedule make-up dates for the time you were denied visitation and order your co-parent to pay for your attorney and court fees if they're found guilty of defying the visitation order.