Shannintipton - posted on 08/10/2011 ( 7 moms have responded )
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How to Deal with an Ex-Spouse Withholding Child Visitation
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Select the type of Lawyer you needFamilyChild CustodyDivorceChild SupportSome non-custodial parents lament that they haven't seen their child in several years. Many non-custodial parents accept that situation. What they don't realize is that there is recourse.
When Child Visitation Is Withheld Occasionally
If the custodial parent withholds visitation occasionally and does not follow the visitation schedule that is written in the agreement or order, visitation can be made up. Specific make-up dates can be scheduled between the parties. Non-custodial parents should keep a journal of dates and times of missed visitation.
If the custodial parent will not schedule make-up dates, the non-custodial parent can take other measures. Other measures, however, never include withholding child support or self-help. Child support and visitation are not related, and other articles discuss that issue. Self-help is kidnapping; even if the non-custodial parent is the father, he cannot take the children because the custodial parent will probably call the police and have him arrested for kidnapping. That will certainly not help his cause in the child's eyes or in court. (See also Revoke Child Visitation Rights).
When Visitation is Consistently Withheld
If there is a visitation order that states when the non-custodial parent has access to the child, or even if the order allows for visitation as agreed between the parties, withholding child visitation is a violation of that order. The non-custodial parent can do several things. In some states he can go to the police and have the visitation enforced. However, many police departments do not want to get involved in domestic disputes. Additionally, trying to enforce visitation by the police will create more hostility between the parents and it doesn't make for happy memories for the child.
The non-custodial parent's next step is to file a petition in court to enforce his visitation rights. He can file the petition himself, but it is advisable to have an attorney file it. The attorney will know what needs to be stated in the petition.
Some states take failure to comply with a visitation order so seriously that there could be a change of custody. However, if the child is older and the custodial parent has already alienated the child from the non-custodial parent, it is unlikely that the child will want to live with the other parent. Sometimes, however, an older child will want to have custody changed and will welcome it. If there is parental alienation involved, a court may change custody anyway. It depends upon the state, since each state has different ways of enforcing visitation.