I currently have joint custody, but my ex-wife won’t let me see my kids, so I am wondering what my legal rights are? I can get an order from the court saying she has to let me see my kids, but when she doesn’t what can I do? The judge can’t follow me around and be there every time she refuses my visitation. Who can actually enforce this?
When you say you have joint custody, are you referring to legal custody or physical custody? The two are often confused. Legal custody refers to the parent’s legal right and responsibility to make decisions for a minor child pertaining to health, education, and religion. Physical custody, often referred to as placement, is the time that the child will spend with each parent. Just because you have legal custody rights does not mean you have physical custody rights and visa versa. You should refer to your original divorce decree to review the legal custody and placement provisions that you are both required to follow.
If you have physical placement rights and your ex-wife is interfering with your placement times or refusing to allow you to see your children, you should contact a domestic litigation attorney immediately. When a party intentionally violates a Court Order, he or she can be held in contempt of court. During a contempt hearing, the Court could order a fine or a jail sentence which could be purged so long as your ex-wife complied with the Order. If she continues to violate the Order, the court order punishment would be imposed.
If you do not have a placement schedule, you should contact an attorney immediately to discuss whether or not you can petition the Court for physical placement rights. Although I do not practice in your jurisdiction, Cordell & Cordell has many attorneys licensed and located in Missouri who would be happy to assist you.
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.