Category: contempt

What Can I Do If It Is Not Safe for My Child to Visit the Other Parent?

What Can I Do If It Is Not Safe for My Child to Visit the Other Parent?

A very scary scenario for a primary residential parent is when there is a situation with the other parent that may somehow endanger the children.  As we have previously discussed, generally, the primary residential parent has to do everything he/she can to make the child go to court ordered visitations.  If you fail to do that, you could be subject to contempt sanctions from the court.  Nothing in this article should be construed as encouraging anyone to disregard a valid court order.

Nevertheless, there are times when a parent believes there is good cause not to allow the child to visit wit the other parent.  Kentucky statute says that, “[g]ood cause not to comply with a provision of a decree or temporary order or injunction with respect to visitation shall include mutual consent of the parties, reasonable belief by either party that there exists the possibility of endangerment to the physical, mental, moral, or emotional health of the child, or endangerment to the physical safety of either party, or extraordinary circumstances as determined by the court.”  Usually these circumstances involve situations of severe substance abuse, criminal activity or a reckless disregard for the child’s health or well-being.

Keep in mind that this statute also says that a person who fails to comply with a valid order without good cause shall be found in contempt and appropriately sanctioned.  The court is also authorized to order the offending party to pay the other parent’s attorney fees and costs associated with the denial of visitation.

If you have determined that you believe you have sufficient good cause to deny visitation, you should contact your attorney.  Many times parents believe there is good cause to deny visitation when it is actually more of a personality conflict between the parents instead of a danger to the child.  Also keep in mind that judges hear many cases with many horrible facts and often become very jaded.  What you believe to be a serious endangerment may not concern a judge at all.  Your attorney should be able to give you some guidance on your particular judge’s “rules of thumb.”

If your attorney agrees with you that there is a sufficient basis to deny the visitation, your next step is usually to file a notice with the court of an intent to deny the visitation.  This notice does not actually give you any authority, but it is primarily to provide some protection when the other parent files a contempt allegation against you.  You should not just rely on this notice and act unilaterally.  The best thing is to be proactive and follow that up with a motion asking the court to address the issue either by suspending the visitation or imposing safeguards to adequately protect the child during the visitation.  Understand, the court will do everything it can to encourage and allow both parents to spend time with the child.  Each case is different and you should discuss yours with your attorney before doing anything that might subject you to sanctions.

Photo courtesy of Alexandru Panoiu

How Do I Enforce My Visitation With the Children?

How Do I Enforce My Visitation With the Children?

Often when divorced parents fight about time spent with the children, it is not really time spent with the children that they are fighting about.  Instead, it is usually one (or sometimes both) of the parents using the children to get back at the other parent.  This often leads to the primary residential parent refusing to let the other parent visit with the children according to the schedule ordered by the court.  If you find yourself in that situation, what should you do?

When your ex is denying you visitation, before you hire a lawyer, write to your ex.  This can be by email, text message, or certified mail, but write to him/her in some manner in which you can show that the message got to him/her.  In that message, remind them about the visitation schedule.  Then describe the ways in which the other parent’s behavior is inconsistent with that schedule.  Keep your description limited to what you can observe and refrain from petty name calling, disparaging remarks, or what you believe the motivations for these behaviors.  In your message set out the specific time and place where you will be to visit with the children on the next scheduled visit in accordance with the court order.

Be at the appointed place and time.  If, after twenty minutes or so, the ex does not show, do not get mad or make a scene.  If the meeting place is at a business you might purchase something of nominal value and save the receipt or even bring a witness; something to prove you were there and on time.  Then write the ex a second message.  Again, just like before, confine your comments to behaviors you can observe and do not go into the ex’s possible motivations.  If the ex does not show at the second appointed time and place, then it is time to contact a lawyer.

The lawyer can file a motion for rule to show cause.  This is a motion that is filed when you believe the other party is violating the court’s order.  You are asking the court to order the other person to appear before the court and explain (or “show cause”) why he/she should not be held in contempt of court.  Sanctions from the court for contempt could be anything from a slap on the wrist, to fines, an award of attorney fees, and even jail time.  However, this is a court proceeding and the truth is whatever can be proven in court.  If you follow these steps you will have your proof and show the judge the truth.

Photo courtesy of potential past