What to Do When an Ex-Spouse Withholds Child Visitation

After a divorce, you’ve succeeded in obtaining visitation of your child and you’ve received a court order which details the intricacies of the child custody arrangement. However, your ex—who is considered the custodial parent—has continuously refused to abide by the orders and you’ve grown frustrated by the lack of action.

Fortunately, noncustodial parents have options to remedy these types of situations. Learning what proper actions to take depends whether your child visitation is withheld occasionally or consistently.

Your Ex Occasionally Withholds Child Visitation

If the custodial parent occasionally withholds visitation and does not follow the visitation schedule that has been ordered by the court, parents can schedule specific make-up dates. Noncustodial parents must keep track of the dates and times of missed visitation in a calendar, journal, or electronic document.

If the custodial parent fails to schedule make-up dates, the noncustodial parent can contact an experienced family law attorney for legal assistance. If your lawyer reaches out to the custodial parent (of the custodial parent’s lawyer) with a letter stating that the interference with visitation is unacceptable, and you are willing to go to court to enforce your rights. This tactic may encourage the custodial parent to comply with the visitation order and schedule your make-up time.

However, noncustodial parents should never withhold child support as a response to this type of situation. Child support and visitation are not related. If you fail to pay child support, you are violating a court order and may be held in contempt of court by a judge who can impose harsh penalties on you, including jail time and fines.

Additionally, resorting to self-help is not a viable option either. A noncustodial parent cannot simply “take” the children whenever they want to, or for a period of time beyond the visitation schedule. The custodial parent can contact law enforcement and have you arrested for kidnapping.

Your Ex Consistently Withholds Visitation

If your ex consistently withholds child visitation, you can take legal action. You can start by filing a motion for contempt of court.

The other parent will be required to show up in court and explain why he/she ignored the child custody orders. If your ex is found guilty, he/she might face jail time and fines. You can also request coverage of your attorney’s fees and costs as a penalty for not obeying the child custody order.

You might also be able to modify the current custody arrangement. For instance, you could request changes in visitation times and length.

As a last resort, you can call the police for assistance. Ensure that you have a certified copy of the child custody orders with you when asking law enforcement to intervene. However, some police departments may be reluctant to get involved in domestic matters.

If you are interested in enforcing or modifying a current child custody order in Newport Beach, CA, request a free consultation with our experienced family lawyers at Burch, Coulston & Shepard, LLP today.