06 Oct Can My Ex Be Fined For Refusing to Give Me Visitation?
You’ve been to Court, whether it be through a Paternity Case or a Divorce Case. You have a Parenting Plan and Court order requiring a certain visitation schedule. Your ex is not complying, they are refusing visitation. Maybe it’s habitual, maybe its spotty. But it is a problem. You want to see your kid(s). What do you do? There are basically (2) legal avenues available to you, and you can use either one or both of them.
(1) A Family Access Motion
Each Courthouse carries forms called a “Family Access Motion”. It is a request for the Court to hear your case on your ex’s refusal to comply with visitation. It is an independent action. Your ex will be served and you will appear in Court to have a hearing on what happened and why. You must show the Court that your ex failed to comply with a Court order. Your ex must show good cause (i.e. a legitimate and excusable reason) for the failure to comply.
If they cannot show good cause, the Court will award an appropriate remedy to you. This can include:
- Up to a $500 Fine
- Requiring the parent to post a bond to ensure against future noncompliance
- A period of compensatory visitation to make up for what you lost
(2) Modification of Your Order/ Contempt
If your ex is habitually or forcefully refusing to allow you to see your child pursuant to a visitation order from the Court, then this refusal could be grounds to modify the Judgment. For instance, joint physical custody requires a level of cooperation. If your ex cannot cooperate with you as it pertains to your child, then perhaps they should not have been awarded joint custody. The Court is interested in the parties providing reasonable access to the children and will award custody to the parent most likely to allow the parental bonds to continue without interference.
You can also pursue a Contempt action on the original Court order. This will be similar to the Family Access Motion in that you will have to show a deliberate violation and they will have to show good cause to excuse the violation. If the Court finds that they did not have a satisfactory reason to violate the Court order, then you may be awarded similar damages to above, ranging from fines to a compensatory period of visitation.
Cooperation takes two. It is necessary for both parents to work reasonably with each other in order to respect and preserve the parental bonds with the child(ren). Refusing visitation is certainly not cooperating in most circumstances. If your rights are being interfered with, then you need to protect your role and take action.