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Dealing with an ex who denies visitation

The tension between you and your ex is still strong, but at least the court-ordered visitation schedule allows you a fair amount of time with your child. However, on your day for visitation, your ex messages to say the child will not be available because of some other obligation. Perhaps you never get a message, but when you arrive at your ex's house to pick up the child, no one is home.

This is not the first time, and you are feeling the precious time with your child slipping away. How do you deal with this matter? Should you withhold child support? Should you call the police? Do you need an attorney?

Protecting your rights

Your response when your ex violates your court-ordered visitation rights depends on the circumstances. For example, if you fear your child is in danger from your ex, a reasonable response is to contact law enforcement. In most other cases, however, a more systematic approach is effective. This begins with keeping a log of the times when your ex fails to honor your visitation rights, such as denying you time with the child, showing up late for drop-offs or constantly rescheduling.

The next steps you can take include the following:

  • Meet with your ex to discuss the reasons for the denial of visitation. Your ex may have concerns you can alleviate, and you may be able to avoid taking any unpleasant steps to protect your rights.
  • Make a non-emergency call or visit to the police station so you have a formal report of the violation.
  • Reach out to an attorney about seeking enforcement of your visitation order through the courts. This may include exercising your right to make up for visitation time your ex has previously denied.
  • Discuss with your attorney the option of seeking a modification of your court order to obtain more time with your child.
  • File a motion asking the court to hold your ex in contempt for refusing to comply with the court-ordered visitation plan. This is a drastic step that may result in fines or even jail for your ex, so think carefully before making this move.

One thing you should not do is to withhold child support payments in retaliation for missing your visitation. Child support is a serious obligation, and you may jeopardize your standing with the court by not paying. Your attorney may have other suggestions and resources to help you obtain your court-ordered time with your child.

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