What Is Visitation Interference And What Can You Do About It?

by Erik Carter, JD, Cordell & Cordell, PC
You have an enforceable right to visit with your children.  Your right to visitation is second to nothing. Not birthday parties. Not a runny nose.  Not the child’s desire to go to park instead of visitation. Nothing.  It is the opportunity for you to maintain the bond with your children, to raise them, to parent them, to instill your values in them.


However, if your visitation time were left up to your ex, it occurs at her convenience and second to almost anything.  Which means it might occur every weekend all weekend – or it might occur on a random Saturday for lunch. Or it might never occur at all. Certainly not on a holiday, and certainly not for weeks at a time when the children are out of school for summer.

Therefore, courts set forth visitation schedules and put them in Orders.  The schedule is so everyone knows the times and days you have your children.  So there is no question if you show up at your ex’s house to pick up your kids that you can in fact pick up your kids.  The schedule is placed in a court Order so that the visitation is enforceable.

Interference with visitation can come in several forms. The most obvious is simply straight-up denial of visitation.  Your ex may tell you bluntly that you are not visiting with the kids this weekend, or she may find “excuses” – a “family reunion,” a birthday party, a church event, or something else that she says is more important than you visitation.  As we said before, nothing is more important than your time with your children, or their time with you.  Second, the “event” is usually something that last for a few hours, yet she unilaterally decides that it is enough to cause the children to skip their entire time with you.  These actions can form the basis of this Petition.

Another form of visitation interference is anything that reduces the quality or quantity of the time you spend with your children.  For example, if she controls your time with the children by restricting who you are with or where you go or what you do, she is interfering with your visitation, especially if you cannot impose similar restrictions on her.  Unless your visitation order states this, you are generally not required to take the children to practices or games or birthday parties or anything else that she has scheduled on your visitation time.

Courts may also include in the Order that you have the right to maintain regular telephone contact with your children.  Courts very often do not set out a specific telephone schedule, assuming that people can “work this out” or that your ex will permit your kids to talk to you in the phone, even if she interferes with face-to-face visitation.

The Petition For Contempt is how the visitation is enforced.  Contempt of court is when someone violates an Order of the court knowingly and willingly, without a legally valid excuse.  Courts expect their orders to be followed, or they expect a reason why it was not.  The Petition For Contempt brings to the court’s attention your ex’s failure to follow the Court’s orders regarding visitation, and asks the Court to punish her for her violation.  You can even ask her to pay your attorney’s fees!

Erik H. Carter is a Senior Attorney of the Cordell & Cordell, P.C. office in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Carter has practiced since 1993 as an attorney. He is licensed in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania as well as the Northern District of Indiana and the Southern District of Indiana.  Read more

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6 comments on “What Is Visitation Interference And What Can You Do About It?

    My ex-wife has a history of denying me access to our children, and the only thing that our family court judge ever does is to lecture my ex-wife and tell her that she ‘will be’ in contempt of court if she does not stop denying me access to our children.

    I now have a PDF copy of my ‘parenting time’ (visitation by any other name) order and the local sheriff’s non-emergency number in my phone. The local police don’t have the …political courage to enforce parental access, but the local sheriff does. My ex-wife finally realizes that denying me access to our children in the future will mean that she goes to jail, and I take custody of the children instead of leaving them with her …paramour.

    I also don’t enjoy playing ‘hardball’, but I got tired of the courts treating as though i was my ex-wife’s indentured servant who should be thankful to be allowed to visit with my children at her whim.

    many mothers use the excuse that the child is now 12 yrs old and can decide if they want to see you? of course the child is generally manipulated or coerced to not want to see the father…..what can be done when the mothers make this claim?

    My daughter’s mother and I were not married however I signed voluntary consent for paternity and I am on the birth certificate. She has lived with her mother as the primary custodian as its convenient for her in order to receive child support. I have seen my daughter regularly in the past eight years and had her by myself for the first two years. A visitation or parenting plan was never submitted. I have paid and continue to pay child support however the mother has moved from the residents and insists that my daughter remain there with her ex husband. Can I legally refrain from returning her to him or her as the mother does not visit, care for, aid in anything for the child? If there is anything I can do please help me. I live in the state of Tennessee I am married to her step mom who has aided 100% in the child’s requirements to remain healthy and safe. What can I do?

    mommy in daddy’s shoes
    i am a mother, and i do not have primary custody of my daughters, for so many stupid reasons. i haven’t seen them in over 2 weeks, and his phone is conveniantly shut off so i can’t even speak to them. he has recently moved farther away and is refusing my visits completely. my car is in no condition to drive to his meeting point of choice (1hr 40min away from me, 40min away from him.) i’m at my wits end and to the dad’s here i’m sorry some women behave this way. i never sought full custody of my daughters because i understand their need to see the other parent. but atm i am just so devistated, and overwhelmed with depression. i worry for their safety, psychological and physical health. someone, please tell me, it’s not gonna cost me an arm and a leg to file this petition for contempt?

    Answer from DadsDivorce admin:
    If you cannot afford an attorney, you should consult your state’s bar association for help locating low- or no-cost legal services.

    Interference with Visitation
    I am fighting a custody battle in Georgia where there are more than the X it standing in the way of visitation. The local judge and law enforcement have not only parnered up to promote interfere with visitation but actually refuse to take reports of interference with visitation. My X shows up only when and where she wants to. Law enforcement merely rights it off as the order is not specific enough AND does not tell me what to do to her. If my child is nothing more than a civil matter then why are my son (and my) civil rights being violated? My X had abducted my son and held him hostage for 172 days (without any communications, visitations, birthdays, holidays, etc). I cannot find any law that protects the non-custodial parent and the absolute right to parent is absolute B.S.

    The court threatened to throw her in jail if she continued. She did. The court threatened to take away her custody. She still continued. Why is everything thrown into the non-custodial parents laps? Whay are the custodians not held accountable? How is protecting the interest of the child? The child is never represented in the court and the attorneys, law enforcement and judges could care less that the child is being used as nothing more than a tool for malicous vengence. [b]Parental alienation is KIDNAPPING[/b]…see [b]www.AChildsRights.org[/b] and [b]www.WheresDADDY.org[/b] for more information.

    my horror story…
    Mr. Carter

    I’m sure you are familiar with the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. Why does the mother interpret these so different than I. Several times she’s picked my toddler son up early on weekends (oddly enough to coincide with your article above, once was because he had a cold and another time was to take him to a baby shower) and rarely allows overnight visits, which are clearly allowed according to “Rule 1”. Anyways, this past weekend I let her know that he would be staying overnight. She of course objected and came to pick son up at 6 (after I had just picked him up at noon). I refused, she called the police and they told her to go home. NOW she tells me that my next weekday visit I have to meet them at the mall and not leave the property (this is documented via email)??? Is this allowable? I believe her reasoning is either the fact that I’m involved with another woman who I recently felt confident enough to involve in my son’s life or the fact that the mother is bipolar and currently on no meds or attends no counseling (and I don’t say this to discredit the mother, however it is diagnosed and relevant). Anyways, that’s the back-drop. I guess what I really want to know is what acts(by definition and example) are considered contempt. I just want to see my son regularly and effortlessly and not spend all my parenting time in The Gap. The only way I see this happening is through a more detailed visitation plan that can actually be enforced rather than a set of “guidelines”. On a side note, I find it interesting that prosecutors will quickly and easily go after someone who does not pay child support (which mine is current, as always), but they will do nothing to enforce visitation. Anyways, I will continue to pray for help and maybe this will fall upon caring eyes that can give me direction.

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