It is unfortunate but sometimes parents in a divorce or a custody case still 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. It’s also not uncommon for one parent to withhold visitation of the child from the other parent. Reasons can be as simple as getting into 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 relational to visitation. Not receiving child support is never a good 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 will include an application seeking emergency custody. Simple withholding of visitation with out any valid reason will wind up with the withholding parent in trouble. If your former spouse or co-parent of your minor child is withholding visitation you need to contact an attorney immediately. This attorney will file a motion to enforce child custody and visitation.
Enforcing Child Custody and Visitation Expedited Hearing:
Upon filing a Motion Enforcing child custody and visitation, the trial court will either set it for a hearing. The hearing is not more than twenty-one (21) days after the filing of the motion. Alternatively the court may refer the parties to court ordered mediation via an ex parte order. If the parties are not able to settle anything at mediation the mediator shall submit the record of the mediation to the court. Upon receipt of this record, the court shall enter an order in accordance with the parties’ agreement. If no agreement occurs, then the court will set the matter for hearing. This hearing 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..
Consequences of Not Following Visitation Orders:
If the filing parent who filed motion enforcing child custody and visitation orders can demonstrate that they exercised their awarded visitation to the fullest, with the exception to the other parents obstruction of the awarded visitation, then the that parent will be awarded visitation compensation for the days of visitation that were withheld.
For the parent found to be improperly withholding visitation the consequences are more grim. Not only may they pay the filing parent’s attorney fees, but they may post a cash bond that is not refundable until the make up visitation occurs. Additionally, the withholding parent could receive a contempt of court action that would result in 6 months in jail. Further, withholding visitation may be grounds for modifying the current operative orders regarding custody and visitation, with the withholding parent losing custody and being subject to limited supervised visitation.