Enforcing Child Custody and Visitation in Family Court is very common. It’s unfortunate but sometimes parents in a divorce or a custody case refuse to get along even after a final decree. It is especially terrible when one parent uses a minor child as a bargaining chip to get what they want. Reasons can be as simple as getting into a disagreement, failure to pay child support, a perceptual danger to the child. Other reasons include jealousy when one parent has moved on and started a new relationship.
Child Support and Withholding Visitation
To clarify child support is not related to visitation. Not receiving child support is never a legal reason to withhold visitation. Additionally, if you believe your child is in danger around the other parent, then you need to file for a protection order. This includes an application seeking emergency custody. Withholding visitation with out a valid reason will wind up with the withholding parent in trouble with the judge. If your former spouse or co-parent is withholding visitation you need to contact an attorney immediately. This attorney will file a motion to enforce child custody and visitation.
Enforcing Custody and Visitation
Upon filing a Motion Enforcing child custody and visitation, the trial court will set it for a hearing. The hearing is set very quickly after the motion is filed. Alternatively the court may refer the parties to court ordered mediation. If the parties are able to settle at mediation the mediator submits the agreement to the court. Upon receipt of this record, the court enters an order in accordance with the parties’ agreement. If no agreement occurs, then the court sets the matter for hearing. This hearing in Tulsa Court or most other Courts in the State occurs no more than ten (10) days after receipt of the record of the mediator. Either way the court must reach a final resolution no later than forty-five (45) days after filing of the motion to enforce visitation.
Consequences of Violating Visitation Orders
If the parent that filed the motion to enforce can demonstrate that they exercised their awarded visitation to the fullest, and that the other parent withheld visitation they have a good case. In many cases if your visitation was withheld the court will order make up time with your child.
The court looks very unfavorably on a parent that withholds court ordered visitation. For the parent found to be improperly withholding visitation the consequences are grim. Often times the guilty parent is forced to pay the attorney fees of the other parent. Additionally, the withholding parent could receive a contempt of court action that is punishable by a six month jail sentence. If the failure to abide by the visitation order continues this is a basis to award custody to the other parent. Basically the guilty party could lose custody.