Visitation, including partial or shared custody, is the means by which the absent parent stays involved in their children’s lives.
Make Sure That You Have a Child Custody Order
There isn’t much you can do to enforce your rights, unless you have a court order. It is fairly easy to obtain one, particularly if the parents are in agreement about the custody and visitation schedule; your attorney can draft an agreement which can be filed with the court for approval. Having a court order gives both parties the security of knowing that it can be enforced. Setting up a regular visitation schedule benefits everyone – particularly the children!
How To Enforce A Visitation Order
If there are problems with the visitation schedule, keep a diary. This allows you to refresh your memory, if at some later time you need to testify about the violations. Problems that repeat themselves are more significant than something that has only happened one time.
If you can, try to work things out. Fighting over custody and visitation isn’t good for anyone. If both parents want to be reasonable, and keep themselves out of court, it should be possible to find a solution. For example, if a visit was missed, a make-up visit could be arranged.
If the situation cannot be resolved, you will need to take the matter to court. Your lawyer will file a Contempt of Court Petition. This is a civil, rather than a criminal process. A Judge has the power to fine a parent, or even put them in jail if someone repeatedly defies his or her orders;this is usually reserved only for the most serious cases. In most cases, the goal will be remedial; getting the visits back on track, and ordering make up time for visits that were missed.
Most Judges believe that a child benefits from having a relationship with both parents. In an extreme case, primary custody can be changed in order to ensure that this happens.