The bond between a parent and child is a precious and wonderful thing. Many of us could never explain to someone without a child what that bond is like. Personally, I thought I understood it before before I became a mother. I had great respect for it and anticipated how wonderful it would be when my first child was born. Looking back now, I had no idea how powerful and life-altering it could be.
What to do when you are denied access:
But what happens when a co-parent denies you the ability to see your child? What do you do to see your child? What steps do you take to protect that precious time going forward?
First, read your custody orders very carefully before making an accusations that your co-parent is denying access and be certain that you are entitled to custody at the time and location you believe.
Second, do not give up visitation because your co-parent says you are behind on child support. If you are behind on child support you cannot be denied visitation.
Now let’s be realistic about this point. If there is a legitimate reason to be behind on your child support, it is crucial that you take the appropriate steps to have that child support modified, or even suspended given the circumstances, beforegetting behind. It is not ideal to enter into a custody dispute when you are behind on child support.
Third, attempt in a non-harassing manner to communicate with your co-parent before the exchange is to take place. Indicate where you will be and the time you will be there and be sure that information is consistent with the custody paperwork. You can do this via phone, text or email, however, we strongly prefer that any couple experiencing tension in co-parent should use www.ourfamilywizard.com to communicate about child issues at all times. If your co-parent has read receipts on text messages, consider getting a screen shot of the message after the read receipt indicates your co-parent has read the message.
Fourth, you need to show up at the designated location at the correct time and document your presence. You can do this by asking that a patrol officer come to your location and fill out an information report. You could go to a local gas station and buy a drink, keeping the receipt to show that the you were in the area at the correct time. This would be especially relevant if you live far enough away that it could not be confused with your daily activities.
Fifth, you need to document in your own records that you were present. You could use this handy Visitation Log that we have created to keep ongoing records of denied visitation. This will be invaluable in court as this information will be very specific and not simply a statement that “he/she will not let me see my child.”
Finally, you need to contact us to discuss the best action to take to remedy this situation quickly and prevent lost memories with your child.
What could happen if you are the one denying visitation
Denying custody could result in a contempt finding by the family court and in the court ordering additional visitation to make up for the lost time. This could result in jail time for the person denying visitation or probation to show the court that they can comply with the visitation schedule.
If the family law consequences are not enough, there are criminal actions that can be taken for a person interfering with a child custody order that could result in up to 2 years of jail time in a State Jail facility and fines for anyone violating the order and denying visitation.
In closing, always remember that every communication must be polite and respectful of the other’s position as parent to your child. You should never be threatening, harassing, or annoying in any way or YOU are the one committing a crime. Your co-parent will not always be polite in return, but that is not the point. Your child is watching and will model their behavior after yours. Teach them to deal with conflict with dignity and grace.