You and your ex tried your hardest, but your marriage ended in divorce. Maybe you were too depressed or shocked to fight back and ask for custody. Maybe you were between jobs or hadn’t secured proper housing by the time the divorce got finalized by the courts.
Whatever the reason, your ex has primary custody of your children, and your relationship with them got relegated to scheduled visitation. You do your best to prioritize spending time with your children, but your former spouse does everything possible to make it difficult. What happens when your ex won’t follow the parenting plan?
Sometimes, visitation issues look like one spouse constantly changing times, dates and locations for pick-up or drop-off. Other times, visitation can get cut short by starting late or needing to end early. In some cases, the custodial parent may simply refuse to allow visitation. When that happens, both you and your children suffer. The courts and psychologists agree that children benefit from ongoing, healthy relationships with both parents. When one parent decides to cut the other out of the children’s lives, it can do immense damage to everyone involved.
What should you do if your ex isn’t following the visitation order?
The most important thing you can do is stay calm during any arguments or confrontations with your former spouse. Don’t scream or make threats. Absolutely do not get physically aggressive, no matter how frustrated, hurt and angry you feel. Doing any of these things can provide evidence as to why visitation got denied. Instead, be calm and rational. If you can’t stay calm in the moment, leave and later follow up with a rational email asserting your rights to visitation. Ask for an explanation and a commitment to the next scheduled visit.
Written responses can provide evidence of the violation of the visitation order. Failing that, you should carefully document each and every time your right to visitation got violated. Specific dates and times are critical to helping substantiate your claim.
Texas can take enforcement actions
If your former spouse simply refuses to work with you to make co-parenting work, you may need to seek help from the courts. Like child support, visitation is arranged via court order. That means that failing to follow a visitation agreement is contempt of court. You can file a motion for visitation enforcement with the local family court. A nearby domestic relations office, often run by the county, can also help. Enforcement actions can include parenting classes for both parents, as well as mediation, supervised visitation, facilitated, neutral location drop-offs and even jail time if all other efforts fail.
You and your child deserve the benefits of an ongoing relationship. If a violation of your court ordered visitation prevents that, take steps to protect your legal rights.