What is Interference with Visitation?
After a high conflict custody battle, visitation disputes can linger on for years or even decades. Interference with visitation can take many forms. A parent can attempt to prevent visits. Interference can also take the form of one parent, usually the custodial parent, preventing any form of communication between the child and the non-custodial parent. Letters, phone calls and gifts can be kept from the child. Parents can also make share time difficult for the other parent by scheduling activities or appointments during scheduled visits.
What can be done if my ex-spouse interferes with my parental rights?
The courts have many remedies if your parenting rights have been violated by your ex-spouse. They include make-up visits for those visitations that were missed, and for the parent who violated the court-ordered visitation schedule: fines and even jail time. In extreme cases, the child custody court may even change custody of the children to you.
The best strategy to avoid repeated interference with your specified share time is to require that all pick ups and drop offs of your children occur at the local police station. Chances are that the party who is denying you your time with your child will be less likely to act uncivilized if they have to conduct it at the police station. Additionally, if a parent fails to show up, then a police incident report can be prepared to document any violations of the court order. If you ever seek to extend your parental rights, a police report will have more weight than you simply telling the judge that you ex never showed up to visit your child.
I never get to have visitations with my child. Do I still have to pay child support?
The answer to this question is a definite “Yes”. Visitation and child support are two separate and distinct issues. Child custody courts frown upon parents who use either visitation or child support as leverage for the other. You must remember that the custodial parent has a moral and legal obligation to allow the non-custodial parent his or her court ordered visitations. As such, the non-custodial parent has a moral and legal obligation to pay child support. If your visitation and parental rights are being violated, then you must file a motion in family court, petitioning for enforcement. Never, never stop either visitation or child support, go through the proper channels.
A non-custodial parent can petition the courts to have his or her child support payments placed in an escrow account, until any visitation or custody disputes are resolved. This method places financial pressure on the custodial parent who is interfering with visitation. They will not receive any financial support until they agree to let you have your visitations that you are entitled to.
What are some practical tips to enforce my visitation rights?
The most practical and important thing you can do to enforce your rights is to have and organize a custody calendar and custody journal. When you are trying to pick up your child, have witnesses. If no one answers the door when you are scheduled to visit your child, drive to the nearest convenience station and make a small purchase, and keep the receipts. This will show that you were in the vicinity at the prescribed time. Have police on standby and request an incident report from them later if need be. Always make sure that all parties are clear on the date and time of the pick up time. Keep everything in writing and document all applicable information. Keep track of all written correspondences with the other parent. If after doing all this your ex still continues to interfere with you visitations, file a contempt motion against him or her.