Saturday, February 17, 2007

Enforcing the Decree: Parenting Time (Visitation)

What do you do you if the child refuses to go on parenting time?

What if the other parent refuses to allow the parenting time?

The court does not supervise visitation. The only people enforcing visitation are the parties themselves. The parties ought to have complied with Parenting Time Guideline I. E.1:

Disagreements Generally. When a disagreement occurs regarding parenting time and the requirements of these Guidelines, both parents shall make every effort to discuss options, including mediation, in an attempt to resolve the dispute before going to court.
(Notice I.E. 2. requires mediation unless otherwise ordered by the court. I find that courts in my area will otherwise order and allow the parties to escape the cost of a mediator.)

Custodial parents need to consider the following from the Parenting Time Guideliness:

3. Child Hesitation. If a child is reluctant to participate in parenting time, each parent shall be responsible to ensure the child complies with the scheduled parenting time. In no event shall a child be allowed to make the decision on whether scheduled parenting time takes place.


In most cases, when a child hesitates to spend time with a parent, it is the result of naturally occurring changes in the life of a child. The child can be helped to overcome hesitation if the parents listen to the child, speak to each other and practically address the child’s needs.

Parents should inquire why a child is reluctant to spend time with a parent. If a parent believes that a child’s safety is compromised in the care of the other parent, that parent should take steps to protect the child, but must recognize the rights of the other parent. This situation must be promptly resolved by both parents. Family counseling may be appropriate. If the parents cannot resolve the situation, either parent may seek the assistance of the court.
What the Commentary obliquely describes as "assistance of the court" means a modification of the Parenting Time Order. The custodial parent cannot cut off visitation without approval of the court. See my post here about modifying Parenting Time.

Not that the non-custodial parent can sit on his rights. The law loses all respect for those sitting on their rights. If the parties cannot negotiate a settlement between themselves, the non-custodial parent must file a contempt affidavit. The court will then determine the proper punishment if the non-custodial parent shows that the custodial parent willfully and intentionally violated the court's order.

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