There may be nothing more frustrating then trying to see your child, only to have your ex-spouse prevent you from doing so. Due to the anger and hurt that accompanies the break up of any relationship, it is not uncommon for one or both parents to withhold visitation as a means of getting back at the other parent for something that he or she has done in the past. Not only does this sort of behavior violate the court’s orders on visitation, but, worst of all, it negatively impacts the child who is stuck in the middle of the dispute.
The first step in working out child visitation issues is to try and talk to your spouse about your visitation rights. If you approach the issue calmly and logically, you may be able to come to a truce with your ex-spouse, at least with regard to visitation, without having to go back to court.
Also, keep in mind that problems with visitation may be compounded by a lack of specifics in the visitation order. After all, if you are entitled to reasonable visitation with your child, who gets to decide what is reasonable? In this case, it may be hard to prove that your ex-spouse violated a court order, especially if the order isn’t very specific or clear to begin with. Therefore, the solution may be to ask the court for a more specific visitation order that resolves the problems that you are having with visitation. For example, if the argument between you and your ex-spouse always focuses on the time that the child should be returned to the custodial parent before bedtime on Sunday nights, then having the court issue an order setting that time for the parents, or coming to a set agreement with your ex-spouse about the time would probably resolve the issue.
If talking to your spouse or reaching an agreement on any issue is next to impossible at this point, then it is time to turn to the court system for help. As is the case for anyone who violates a court order, your ex-spouse can be held accountable for failing to comply with the court’s visitation order. You or your lawyer can easily file documents with the court describing how your ex-spouse has violated the visitation order, and asking that the order be enforced.
Possible remedies for violating a visitation order, or any court order, may include an award of attorneys’ fees, a finding of contempt of court, an order for “make-up” visitation for visitation time that was missed, or even a jail sentence in some extreme circumstances.
Due to the importance of the enforcing your right to visit with your child, you should strongly consider consulting an attorney for help. Not only can your attorney file the appropriate documents with the court and effectively present your case to the court, but he or she may be able to work out an agreement with your ex-spouse in order to avoid going to court altogether. Sometimes, even when ex-spouses cannot reach an agreement, having an attorney involved in order to ease communication problems can help resolve the problem.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.