Interference with visitation occurs when a child who is 17 years of age or younger is prevented from having a lawful visitation with his or her noncustodial parent. Though the action is illegal, it is not uncommon for a former spouse to attempt to keep a noncustodial parent from visiting the mutual children. Often this interference is done in retaliation for something the custodial parent feels the former spouse has done or failed to do. Falling behind on child support, alimony, or even a new relationship are all commonly-cited reasons for visitation denial. Knowing what you should do if your ex-wife will not let you visit your child can help you manage a stressful and upsetting situation.
Know Your Rights
People who engage in visitation interference often do so under the incorrect impression that it is legal to withhold court ordered visitation if another aspect of the agreement such as child support or medical coverage is not current. In actuality, a custodial parent does not have the right to refuse visitation based on an unrelated dispute. Maintenance payments are a separate issue and even if a custodial parent suspects abuse, he or she is still required to petition the court for assistance in the form of a custody modification or protective order. Knowing your legal rights as a noncustodial parent makes it easier for you take action when your former spouse attempts to violate your court ordered custody agreement.
The last thing you want to deal with is any type of he-said she-said scenario. Documenting your ex’s refusal gives you concrete evidence to present should your situation continue to the point that a hearing is necessary. Start contacting your ex via email or text message regarding your desire to pick up your child for scheduled visitation. Save the refusals regardless of whether he or she gives you a seemingly valid excuse or not. Having the repeated claims in writing that your child is sick or has activities that are leading to your visitation being cancelled create a scenario in which your ex-spouse may need to provide concrete proof that the claims are true.
Get Ready for Court
If your ex-wife continues interfering with or canceling your visitation, the only option open to you may be a court hearing. Filing a motion of contempt gives you an opportunity to go to court, usually before the same judge who signed your custody agreement, and prove that your ex is violating the agreement. Since visitation interference is a serious offense be prepared to provide the court with dates, times, and details regarding each time your visitation was denied. Possible punishments if a person is found guilty of interference with visitation include fines of between $200 and $500 for a first offense, imprisonment, and/or custody changes that are in your favor.
Contact an Attorney
If you or someone you know is dealing with visitation interference from a former spouse, contact a contempt attorney to explore your available options. An attorney can help you build a case and reestablish your visitation rights. The aggressive attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum are prepared to fight for your custody and visitation rights to ensure that your ex-spouse complies with court orders. Contact one of our four Atlanta area offices today to schedule a consultation.