Question: My ex-wife and I have joint custody and equal placement. For the past 2.5 years she has made it difficult for me to communicate with the girls when they are with her.
She refuses to communicate with me about the girls. The problem I have is to maintain a record of my attempts to communicate, I write her letters. In her very few responses she says that my letters and phone calls are bordering harassment and intimidation.
My concern is how do address this prior to her trying to turn this into a case?
Considering you have joint custody, you have to be able to communicate with each other regarding issues affecting your children. However, the content of your letters and phone calls are important. Because of the severity of her allegations, you should have an attorney review your contact records to determine whether your communication attempts can be construed as harassment. In Wisconsin, harassment injunctions can be granted if a person engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts which harass or intimidate another person and which serve no legitimate purpose. If the Court were to grant her a harassment injunction, it can be for up to four years. Since you would be prohibited from contacting her, you would have to communicate regarding your children through a third party.
The fact that you are keeping a record of your attempts to communicate is great, you should continue this practice. If she is unwilling to communicate, does this mean that she is making legal custody decisions regarding your children without your input? If so, you may be able to file a motion for contempt based on her failure to abide by the Court Orders for joint decision making. If she doesn’t want to make decisions jointly, you may have a case for the Court to award you sole custody.
I practice in Wisconsin, however, I would need additional information to be able to tell you whether or not you should pursue sole custody. As such, you should contact a domestic litigation attorney immediately to discuss your situation and to review your communication records. Cordell & Cordell has an office in Milwaukee and we would be happy to assist.
Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.