What Are the Consequences of Child Visitation Interference in California?

Visitation Interference Divorce Lawyer Fresno CACalifornia courts take parenting time seriously, as court-ordered parenting schedules are created in the best interests of the child. So, when one parent significantly hinders the parenting time of their spouse, the court may respond with severe consequences.

At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks we can help you protect your visitation rights. If you are experiencing child visitation interference by your spouse, then contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

When Visitation Interference Is Direct

Sometimes visitation interference is obvious. For example, the custodial parent actively prevents their spouse from seeing the kids in one of the following ways:

  • Leaving with the child out of state or the country without giving the other parent advanced notice
  • Moving to a new address without giving the other parent the location
  • Refusing normal visitation because the other parent is behind on support payments
  • Cancelling visitation without any sufficient reason (such as an actual emergency)
  • Simply refusing to adhere to the visitation schedule

When visitation interference is open and direct, gaining proper evidence of the interference is much easier.

When Visitation Interference Is Indirect

In most cases, however, visitation interference is often indirect or subtle in nature. That makes proving any interference much more challenging and harder to fight. However, with the right family law attorney, you can obtain the evidence you need to support your case. Here are some examples of when custodial parents engage in visitation interference that is indirect or more subtle:

  • Intentionally failing to notify the other parent of extracurricular events so that it makes the other parent look as if they’re not interested in attending their child’s after school functions
  • Preventing the child from speaking on the phone with the other parent
  • Actively encouraging the child to refuse visitation with the other parent
  • Bad mouthing the other parent to the child so that it makes the child afraid of the that parent

Consequences of Visitation Interference

The consequences of visitation interference depend on a number of different factors. For example, if it’s a first-time offense, and it doesn’t cross over into a criminal matter, then the court may just order make-up parenting time. However, for more serious offenses, the court can order a temporary or permanent change to primary custody. That could mean completely removing the child away from the care of the non-compliant parent.

Furthermore, the court can force the non-compliant parent to pay a fine. This fine can range from covering the other parent’s attorney fees to paying for the child’s counseling services. The court may even order the offending parent to participate in counseling sessions until a judge feels that the parent won’t engage in visitation interference again.

In more extreme cases of visitation interference, the court may charge the non-compliant parent under criminal law, such as with parental abduction. This is especially true if the court finds any intent to hide the child. Depending upon the circumstances of the case, the non-compliant parent could face drastic fines and jail time. They would also lose custody all together.

Protect Your Child With the Help of a Fresno Family Law Attorney

Divorce is a stressful time for all parties involved. However, in many cases, children experience a great more deal of stress. When you add visitation interference on top of the divorce, it only complicates matters further. An experienced family law attorney knows how to communicate with families in a way that helps them understand the situation, as well as help them feel comfortable asking questions. Above all, our sole focus is ensuring your child’s best interests are met.

Learn More About Visitation Interference

At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we place a great value on parenting time. If your ex is interfering with your parenting schedule, contact us as soon as possible. We will examine your case, help you obtain evidence of the interference, and effectively represent you in court if necessary.

What Is the Punishment for Contempt of Court in Family Court?

Punishment for Contempt of Court in Family Court Fresno CAIn a California family case, a contempt of court order can be a powerful enforcement tool. It’s available to either spouse when the other refuses to comply with a court order.

Below, we discuss the punishment for contempt of court in family court, as well as what court orders can and can’t be enforceable by a contempt of court order.

To learn more, consult an experienced Fresno family law attorney at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks.

Proving Contempt of Court in Family Court

Before you can file an Order to Show Cause (OSC) and Affidavit for Contempt, you must be sure that you can prove your ex spouse’s contempt of court actions. This criminal burden of proof is important because a petition for contempt of court is criminal in nature. It also carries the right to trial by jury.

The petitioning spouse must prove the following to hold the accused spouse in contempt:

  1. There needs to be a valid and clear court order. A vague court order that is neither clear nor specific makes it hard to enforce contempt proceedings.
  2. The accused spouse must possess knowledge of the court order. Most often, the accused spouse more than likely either received a personal copy of the court order or was present in court on the day the order was made. However, there are rare instances where the accused did not receive a copy of the order and was not present in court. Those situations are more complex because the accused can claim ignorance to certain facts in the order.
  3. The accused spouse must have intentionally violated the court order. For instance, if ordered to pay family support or attorneys fees, the paying spouse may claim an inability to comply with the order at the present time. However, in reality that same spouse really does possess the means to pay their ordered support payments. In that situation, the accused spouse willfully violated the court order.

Types of Court Orders Enforceable by Contempt of Court in Family Law Cases

The following court orders are enforceable by contempt of court orders:

  • Child and Spousal Support Orders. If a spouse is ordered to pay child or spousal support but fails to follow through with the payments, then they can be held in contempt of court. That includes temporary and final child and spousal support orders. You may begin contempt proceedings even if a part of the support is paid or late.
  • Orders to Pay Attorney’s Fees. In family law cases, attorneys fees break up into two categories — Family Code 2030 and 2032, and Family Code 271. The first set of codes are need-based orders and are enforceable by contempt of court. However, the latter code is not so clear cut.
  • Order to Seek Work. When the court orders a spouse to seek employment, that is not a suggestion. It is a clear a directive. Intentionally failing to follow through with that order is punishable by contempt.
  • Restraining Orders. Any intentional violation of a restraining order is a punishable contempt offense.
  • Visitation and Child Custody Orders. These orders the most violated orders in many contempt proceedings. All too often one parent either intentionally hinders the other parent’s visitation rights or fails to adhere to the parenting schedule.

Understanding the Laws That Dictate Punishment for Contempt of Court in Family Court

In order to understand punishment for contempt of court in family court, you must first understand sentencing laws.

California Code of Civil Procedure 1218(c) states that every act of contempt will result in up to $1000 in fines and or up to five days of imprisonment. So, for example, failure to pay multiple months worth of support payments can add up quickly. In addition, the court can also order community service.

The punishment for contempt of court in family court is mandatory. With every convicted offense of contempt, the punishment only grows larger and larger by the code stated above. The court will take the convicted spouse’s employment schedule into account when ordering any punishment.

Learn More About Punishment for Contempt of Court in Family Court

If you are considering bringing a petition for contempt of court, or if you need to defend one, speak to a Fresno family law attorney at the Law Office of Rick D. Banks today.

How to Prove Parental Alienation — and Put a Stop to It

How to Prove Parental Alienation Family Law Attorney Fresno CAIs your spouse alienating your child from you? What can you do to stop the abuse and finally see your child again?

Unlike other forms of abuse, particularly physical abuse, alienation does not leave physical marks or scars. So how can you get law enforcement involved if you have nothing to show as evidence of the alienation? Fortunately, while it may seem daunting, you do have some options. Below, we examine how to prove parental alienation, and what you can do to protect yourself.

How to Prove Parental Alienation Through Witnesses

There are three obvious parties that are direct witnesses in any case of alienation. The first party is the spouse conducting the alienation — the culprit. The second party is you — the victim. And the third party is your child. Each of these parties can help you prove parental alienation.

Teenager Witnesses

Unfortunately, older children, particularly teenagers, may not recognize parental alienation if the other parent has been doing it for years. They may simply see the alienating parent’s actions as normal. The alienating parent literally brainwashes their child into ignoring their wrongdoing. In cases such as these, the only way to prove parental alienation is by relying on evidence rather than witness testimony from the child.

Fortunately, not all cases involve brainwashed children. Furthermore, when a teenager has not yet been alienated, they can serve as a reliable witness. Because teenagers are more articulate and better understanding of their surroundings than younger child, your teenager can help provide great witness testimony that proves parental alienation.

 Younger Children

Because younger children have a harder time understanding their surroundings, they make pick up things you or the other parent says or does. For example, they may not fully grasp what the alienating parent is trying to accomplish. So, during the interview process, that child may inadvertently expose the alienation through something he or she repeats from the alienating parent. This could be something the alienating parent tells the child in an attempt to disparage the other parent from them.

Other Witnesses

Separate from the parties mentioned above, other potential witnesses you can utilize to help prove parental alienation can include:

  • Grandparents
  • Uncles or aunts
  • Brothers or sisters
  • Close friends
  • Nannies or caregivers

If any of the people above have spent a good portion of time with your child, then they can help attest to what the alienating parent has done. Furthermore, these people can also attest to what you child has said in reference to the alienation. Though, keep in mind that this “hearsay” is not always admissible in court.

How to Prove Parental Alienation Through Documentation

How do you prove parental alienation through documentation? See below.

Electronic Communication

Has you child said something that clearly shows your spouse’s attempt to alienate them for you? Send your spouse a text or email that states what the child says and ask your spouse to explain it. Sure, your spouse could respond with a lie, however, more often than not, they’re indirectly admit to something in the heat of the moment. Better yet, if they fail to respond, then their silence only further helps your case.

Make sure to keep consistent documentation of everything your child says that proves the alienation. One or two isolated incidents here and there won’t help your case. You must be vigilant and keep a record that clearly shows a history of the other parent’s misconduct. At the very least, keeping this detailed documentation shows the court how seriously you’re taking the situation.

Social Media Posts

In the age of technology, you’d be surprised by what people admit to doing on social media, especially Facebook or Instagram. Sometimes, an alienating parent may state an opinion of the other parent on social media, which the child then goes on to repeat. This would directly show a parent imposing their beliefs onto the child.

Learn More About How to Prove Parental Alienation

An experienced Fresno family law attorney knows exactly what it takes to prove parental alienation. Since we strongly believe that parental alienation is a form of child abuse, we will work hard to defend your case. Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today to learn more about how we can help.

What to Know About Getting an Emergency Temporary Custody Order in California

Emergency Temporary Custody Order in California Fresno CAThe safety of your children is of the utmost importance, and any threat to their safety requires swift action. But you also must follow the proper legal procedures.

Unfortunately, all too often parents make the fatal mistake of taking on their children’s safety alone. In the end, they suffer harsh consequences for simply wanting to protect their children. Accusations such as kidnapping or custody order violation carries immense repercussions. If you do not follow proper legal recourse, then you further risk the safety of your children.

If you fear for the physical safety of your children, a Fresno family law attorney at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks can help. Contact us today to learn more about how to obtain an emergency temporary custody order in California.

What Is an Emergency Temporary Custody Order?

An emergency temporary custody order is geared towards one thing: protecting children in danger. Danger can come in the form of abuse, threats, abandonment, or serious bodily harm. If you believe your child is in danger, an emergency custody order in California will temporarily grant you custody so that you can get your child to safety.

However, remember that this order is only temporary. It does not grant you permanent custody of your child.

When Do You Need an Emergency Custody Order?

Divorce is a very stressful process. Sometimes, that stress results in one parent lashing out at the other parent. When this happens, children are often caught up in the aggression. For instance, in order to get back at the other parent, one parent may impose an unreasonable punishment upon the child. Furthermore, one parent’s aggression may even lead to full on abuse towards the child, whether physical or mental.

Whenever one parent’s actions negatively affects the safety, health or overall well-being of a child, then the court can step in and order emergency custody.

Why Do You Need an Emergency Custody Order?

Without it, you allow the other parent to make a case against you. While you may be acting solely in the name of protecting your child, without the order, the court cannot legally acknowledge your actions. Many parents have made the foolish mistake of taking their child away from the family home, only to have the other parent levy accusations of kidnapping. If you want to fully protect your children, an emergency custody order in California is a necessity.

Obtaining an Emergency Temporary Custody Order in California

California law limits who can petition for an emergency custody order. Typically, only a parent may petition the court.

In order to successfully receive an emergency custody order you must provide evidence that shows the immediate harm your child faces. Write down any threats your child receives, collect documents and emails, and prepare to explain your case to the court. Here is a list of evidence the court recognizes:

  • Police reports and arrest records of your spouse
  • Records of your spouse’s prior convictions that demonstrates their capacity to inflict harm
  • Child Protective Service records
  • Any previous protective orders
  • Your child’s medical or dental records
  • If applicable, your child’s psychologist’s records

You must back up your claims of danger with proper evidence. If you cannot prove your child is immediate danger, then the court cannot rule in your favor. Do not risk restricting the court’s authority. Having an experienced family law attorney on your side can help ensure you have the right evidence backing up your claims.

You can also use any evidence you obtain for an emergency custody order for when you attempt to seek full custody.

Protect the Safety of Your Child With the Help of a Fresno Family Law Attorney

If your child’s safety is in danger, get the legal help you need. At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we understand the importance of your child’s safety. To learn more about how to obtain an emergency temporary custody order in California, contact us today.