Helping Parents Enforce Their Rights Under Visitation Arrangements
The most emotionally fraught component of any divorce involving children is naturally child custody arrangements, including the visitation schedule. Once you obtain a parenting plan that you can live with, it can make the other details of your divorce seem more manageable. If, on the other hand, your ex refuses to comply with the visitation schedule in one capacity or another, it can make the transition into post-divorce life far more complicated and far more stressful. If your ex is ignoring your court-ordered visitation schedule, you need the professional legal counsel of an experienced Houston family law attorney.
Keeping a Visitation Journal
Your divorce has been finalized, and you and your children are moving forward with your post-divorce lives. You can do yourself a favor by keeping a visitation journal from the outset. While your ex may never give you any trouble regarding visitation, if a problem does arise, this journal may well prove invaluable.
Every time you drop the kids off, pick the kids up, or have the kids overnight, jot it down in your visitation journal. While it may seem like obvious information at the moment, if it ever comes to the point that you need to enforce visitation, you’ll have all this information in one place. A written journal can become critical evidence when it comes to enforcing a visitation schedule.
Adjusting for Busy Lives
The fact is that we all lead busy lives. Your kids are likely growing up more quickly than you ever thought possible, and you and your ex both probably feel pulled in many different directions. As such, either one of you may need to tweak the visitation schedule from time to time. Being flexible on this point isn’t a sign of weakness, but in instead shows that you are a team player who is willing to compromise. When you and your ex do make allowances for one another in your visitation schedule, make a notation of it in your visitation journal. All of this information helps to create an accurate record of your shared parenting time.
It is the court’s view that children do better when they spend a decent amount of time with both parents. If you are the spouse who provided the lion’s share of parenting throughout your marriage, this can be difficult to accept. Recognizing that your children love both of you, don’t want to have to choose between the two of you, and genuinely enjoy spending time with both of you may help you come to peace with your new parenting schedule. Court-ordered visitation schedules are something you must come to terms with, but an ex who does not abide by that schedule is an entirely different matter. You do not have to learn to accept whatever your children’s other parent decides to do or change when it comes to your visitation schedule.
Sometimes, an ex can be inconsiderate or uncooperative regarding scheduled drop-offs, pickups, and last minute plan changes – it’s inconvenient but not disastrous. If, on the other hand, your ex is interfering with your right to your court-ordered visitation, it is a different story entirely. Nothing can be more hurtful to your children or to you than to be denied time with them. It is difficult enough to have to split your children’s lives between the two of you, but losing any amount of the time that belongs to you can be heartbreaking and harmful – not just for you but also for your children. Do not sit idly by in an effort to keep the peace. An experienced Houston family law attorney will help you fight for you and your children’s rights and will help you restore your family time together.
Your court-ordered visitation schedule spells out exactly when, where, and how your children should be passed from one parent to the other. Within the realm of possibility, always adhere to this schedule as closely as possible. If you are supposed to be at home for the children’s arrival at a certain time, be there. If you are meant to pick the children up at a specific place, day, and time, do so. If it becomes necessary to request a change in plans, give your ex as much advance notice as you possibly can, and if he or she won’t budge or won’t respond, make alternate plans to make sure you can be there for your kids.
Even if your ex is actively violating the visitation schedule and you know that your children won’t be where they’re supposed to be for pickup, show up anyway. Take a timestamped photo with your phone as proof that you were there, bring along a reliable witness, or do both. While this may seem ridiculous – you know you were there – it, nevertheless, bolsters your case for seeking visitation enforcement. Always fulfill your role in the visitation schedule – regardless of what your ex does. The one thing you should never do is to retaliate through child support payments (if you are the payor). Child support and visitation are entirely separate issues, and one should never be used as a weapon against the other.
Being denied time with your children is extremely painful. Remind yourself that you’re working on enforcing the visitation order and that this won’t last forever. Document your ex’s noncompliance, and consult with an experienced Houston family law attorney immediately. Your attorney will likely move forward with a Motion to Enforce against your ex, which must be heard within 30 days of filing. The court has wide discretion to enforce your visitation schedule – or even to modify it – to compel your ex to pay your legal fees, and more.
If Your Spouse Is Keeping Your Children from You, Consult with an Experienced Houston Family Law Attorney Today
If the other parent refuses to comply with court-ordered visitation schedules, you need the immediate legal counsel of an experienced family law attorney. At Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston, we understand exactly how important visitation is for you and your children, and we’re here to help. For more information, please contact or call us at 713-781-7775 today.