Not all child custody arrangements work out the way we want them to. Visitation hours are too rigid, we don’t see our kids enough, rescheduling becomes a laborious chore… But even these frustrations become minor annoyances in the nightmarish light of a stubborn ex-spouse.
An uncooperative ex can spell heartbreak for even the most determined parent. You arrive to pick up the kids and your ex isn’t home. You arrange to drive your son to his soccer game and your once-spouse has packed him off in a neighborhood carpool. You call to wish your daughter a Happy Birthday, and your ex slams the phone into the receiver.
The court has granted you visitation rights under child custody laws, and your ex-wife or ex-husband has done everything in their power to violate them. And all you want to do is see your kids.
When Your Ex Won’t Cooperate
Difficult exes are one thing, but an ex who denies your child visitation rights is on the fast path to becoming a criminal. No matter what state you’re in, where you’re living, or how far away your spouse is living, you are guaranteed the visitation rights that were granted to you by the court.
Unfortunately, the enforcement of those rights isn’t as simple as placing a phone call, and a bull-headed ex can make your life a living hell. In this case, your strongest option is sheer determination. If you want to make a case that holds up in court, you’re going to need to make the following a regular routine:
- REGISTER your Visitation Order with the State you live in, especially if it is not the state that issued the order.
- DOCUMENT all instances in which your ex violates your Visitation Order with the police, and keep copies of your police reports on hand.
- FILE collected police reports with the court and ask for a Contempt Violation, then repeat your previous documentation if your ex continues to give you trouble.
Once you have one or more Contempt Violations issued against your ex, you can ask the court to rule for modified custody or, in the case of repeated violations, to rule against your ex as an unfit parent. Either way, the court is very likely to rule in your favor and may even grant you primary custody. In some cases, parents have also been successful in suing an ex for withholding child visitation.
Talking To Your Ex About Child Custody Laws
If you feel like your ex might be responsive to a civil conversation, you can also discuss with them the legal implications of their continued Visitation Order violations. Some individuals don’t realize that their actions are criminal, and that they are putting themselves at risk of losing their own custody.
However, you should also be careful to avoid threatening your ex-spouse, especially if you are afraid that they might flee the State. While it is illegal for them to move without first consulting the court (and such an action is a felony in 38 states!), the reality of the situation is that it can be difficult to track an ex who has fled the State. As such, it is always best to try to keep a civil relationship with your ex—even if they’re the one acting like a child.
Find a Child Visitation Rights Lawyer
For up-to-date and accurate information on child custody and visitation laws, please visit the LegalMatch Law Library. Access is open to everyone.
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