Unfortunately, sometimes divorced spouses can’t seem to co-parent successfully. Ignoring the existing parenting plan, a custodial parent may intentionally prevent the non-custodial parent from seeing their child for months, or even sometimes years. So what happens if one parent is withholding a child from another parent? While many non-custodial parents may simply accept this type of behavior, you do have other options to fix this situation.
When the Parent Withholds Child Visitation Occasionally
When a custodial parent occasionally withholds child visitation and fails to follow the visitation schedule, then that missing visitation time can be made up. You and your ex-spouse will need to schedule dates to make that time up. If you’re the non-custodial parent, make sure to keep detailed records. Record the times and dates your spouse withholds child visitation from you. We recommend keeping a calendar, electronic document, or written journal of those specific times.
If your spouse refuses to schedule these make-up dates, then you have other options. However, remember that retaliating by withholding child support is never a good idea. The child support you pay is not directly related to your right of visitation. By law, your child is entitled to the money you pay for child support. If you retaliate by withholding those support payments, you’re violating a court order, which opens you up to serious penalties. A judge can hold you in contempt of court and impose substantial monetary fines or even jail time. No matter how frustrated you may be, never under any circumstances withhold your court order child support payments.
Another retaliation method that may tempt you is self-help, otherwise known as kidnapping. You as the custodial parent cannot “take” your child whenever you want. If you do so, your spouse, the custodial parent, can call the police and have you arrested for kidnapping. The court will see this arrest in an unfavorable light. Self-help will not help your case.
Instead, if your spouse withholds visitation and refuses to reschedule that time, then seek the help of an attorney. Most often, simply having your attorney explain your willingness to go to court to enforce your visitation rights is enough to scare your spouse into complying with the visitation schedule.
When the Parent Withholds Child Visitation Consistently
If your spouse, as the custodial parent, consistently withholds your right to visitation, there are several things you can do.
The first thing you can do is to contact the police in orders to enforce your right to visitation. However, most police departments will do whatever they can to avoid domestic disputes. Furthermore, seeking help from law enforcement can lead to more hostility between you and your spouse. This will also create unhappy memories for your child.
Your next step as a non-custodial parent is to file a petition in court. In hindsight this is your best option for enforcing your right to visitation. While you can file this petition by yourself, we advise seeking the help of a seasoned family law attorney. With the help of your attorney, your petition will contain all of the necessary information.
Many states take withholding child visitation very seriously. In fact, these states allow a change in custody if the custodial parent consistently withholds visitation. By seeking the help of the court, if your spouse consistently shows they’re unfit to hold custody, the court can transfer custody to you.
Contact a Family Law Attorney to Learn More About What Happens If One Parent Is Withholding a Child From Another Parent
Custody is a deeply emotionally-charged topic. If your spouse interferes with your right to visitation and shows little signs of complying, your best solution is to a hire an experienced family law attorney. Call the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.