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What to Do When a Parent Withholds Visitation

When parents file for divorce, they will typically have a child custody and visitation agreement in place once the separation becomes final. While some parents are able to raise their children in an amicable and respectful manner, others find it extremely difficult to get along.

In some instances, the custodial parent will deliberately withhold visitation from the noncustodial parent. However, this is considered a violation of a court order, which gives the noncustodial parent the ability to take legal action.

The following are several steps you can take to ensure the custodial parent follows a visitation order:

  • Document everything – Any time your ex-spouse decides to prevent you from seeing your child, write it down in a journal or calendar. Keep track of the date and times, as well as your attempts to resolve the situation.
  • Attempt to resolve the issue yourself – Before you take your case to court, it is wise to initially try work things out with your ex. Not only can a contentious court battle be time-consuming and expensive, but also be emotionally harmful to children. Be open to schedule make-up dates for every visit that was missed. You may also seek mediation services from a local Family Service Office or Family Relations Office.
  • Have your lawyer send a letter – If you and your ex cannot come to an agreement, your attorney could write a demand letter, notifying the other parent that they must follow the court order to face legal consequences. Sometimes this type of letter is enough to fix the problem.
  • Go to court – If the letter doesn’t change your situation, you must file a petition in court to enforce visitation rights. If your ex continues to disobey court orders, then he/she could be held in contempt of court, which can result in fines, sanctions, or even jail time. You could use the documentation you have as evidence in court.

In order to succeed in your case, there are certain actions you should never take. For example, stopping child support payments in retaliation can land you in legal trouble. Child custody and child support are two separate matters and have no relation with one another.

If you are interested in modifying a child custody order in Dayton, OH, contact L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates and request a free case evaluation today.


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