Coparenting after a split can be very difficult. At a minimum, the schedules of two working adults, the children’s school and extracurricular activities, as well as social activities like birthday parties and sleepovers are all considerations that must be considered when agreeing on visitation. When there is anger, bitterness or dysfunction involved, it can become a battleground. So what are the options when there is a custodial parent who denies you access to your children or a non-custodial parent who is a no-show when it is time for their visitation?
What is Non-Compliance?
Non-compliance of visitation agreements can take any of these forms:
- Keeping the child with you for longer than was agreed
- Failing to inform the other parent of the child’s location
- Taking the child on a long trip that was not preapproved by the custodial parent
- Taking the child outside of the state without approval
- Leaving the child with an unauthorized person
- Denying the non-custodial parent their custody or visitation rights
- Not showing up for scheduled visits
- Repeatedly rescheduling visits
What Can You Do?
When both parents have agreed on a visitation plan and the court has approved it, the expectation is that the parents will follow that plan. When that doesn’t happen, there are a few things you should do.
Make sure there is language included in the agreements that compel the parents to attend therapy or mediation at the request of only one party if there are issues with the visitation. Then, make sure you document the infraction in writing. Reminding the other parent of the documented agreement can give them notice that you expect compliance. You will also have dated evidence if the issues continue and you have to seek legal counsel.
Document everything in minute detail. Keep a log of any communication, dates, times and circumstances. The more information your attorney or the court has, the better off you’ll be. Be sure to take advantage of the option for counseling or mediation if you have that in your agreement.
If the non-compliance does not improve, be ready to take it to the next level. Your previous documentation of infractions can be the evidence you need to seek a change in custodial agreements.
Save the strong language for the attorney. Be firm, be factual and, by all means, remind the parent of the contractual terms of visitation and custody agreements.