While some divorced parents can successfully work together to raise their kids in two separate households, others are experiencing immense difficulties because of the animosity between the ex-spouses. There are many cases where the ex-spouse with primary custody withholds visitation from the other spouse out of spite. Unfortunately, noncustodial parents who are experiencing this type of situation feel helpless, often causing them to give up completely. However, it is imperative to continue to fight for your court-ordered rights by going through all the available legal channels. If your ex-spouse is withholding child visitation, taking the following steps may help resolve the issue:
- Record all the missed dates – Whether you use a calendar or keep a journal, document any missed visitation. Additionally, maintain copies of any recorded dialogue with the other party, from text messages and e-mails. This means you need to keep a cool head when communicating with your ex and always maintain professionalism. If you end up attempting to obtain enforcement of your order, any documentation can provide significant help to your case.
- Attempt to resolve the issue outside of court – If you are your spouse are dedicated to raising your children in the best possible way, both of you should be able to squash any minor problems before they get worse. If visitation dates are missed on occasion due to conflicting schedules or confusion, you can find a compromise to make up the missed dates. Resolving any issues between the two of you can be beneficial for the future and your children’s well-being. In order to successfully co-parent, you and your ex need to work as a team for your kids’ sake.
- Have your lawyer send a demand letter – Despite your efforts to keep the court out of your situation, if your ex continues to deny court-ordered visitation, you can have your attorney write and send a strongly-worded letter to him/her. Ensure the letter includes the fact that you are willing to avoid the headache of the court system and your request to make up any missed dates. Also warn your spouse that if his/her behavior continues, then you will seek court intervention.
- Go to court – If your ex fails to take corrective actions after sending him/her the demand letter, you can file a Motion to Enforce to ask the court to be involved and force your ex to comply with the order. Furthermore, you can ask the court to issue make-up days for any missed visitation, as well as court costs and attorney fees if your ex is found guilty of willful disobedience. You can present the court with all your documentation, which is considered evidence which supports your case.
Keep in mind, do not stop paying court-ordered child support in retaliation against missed visitation dates. These two issues are separate from one another, so willfully disobey a child support order can result in legal trouble. Additionally, do not attempt to keep your child beyond your scheduled visitation time, or else you will be accused of kidnapping. For more information about child custody and visitation disputes in Massachusetts, contact our Framingham family law attorney at Barach Law Group LLC today.