One of the hardest parts of divorce can be losing daily contact with your child. This can be especially difficult when the court issues a custody and visitation order that you think is unfair. Either parent, custodial or non-custodial, might want to ignore the visitation terms of the order. However, a California parent who violates a visitation agreement can face contempt charges among other penalties.
In the midst of the NBA Finals games, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade
has had to deal with his ex-wife’s violations of their visitation arrangement. The star is the father of two boys and is one of the few male professional athletes who have been awarded custody of his children. After a recent visit with her children, though, Wade’s ex-wife failed to return the children.
His sister was to pick up the children from the mother’s house and then take them to Miami so they could spend Father’s Day with Wade. However, when the sister went to pick up the children, there was no response at the house. After several hours, the sister called the police and was finally able to get the boys who were then flown to Miami to be with their father. The mother was charged with attempted child abduction, resisting arrest and unlawful visitation interference.
Wade has asked that the mother’s visitation rights be suspended after the violation. Not only is it troubling for a parent when the other refuses to cooperate with agreements, but it can be frightening for a child as well. Courts and law enforcement officials can get involved in these situations because of the danger that a child may be in.
It can be frustrating and upsetting when a parent violates the terms of a child support or custody order arrangement. From payment schedules to visitation hours, the guidelines of these agreements must be followed or a parent can face serious consequences.
You Can Enforce a Visitation Order
The parent who has not violated the visitation terms of a custody order can always take the other parent back to court to get the order enforced. This might happen if the child the parent lives with refuses to turn the child over to the other parent for visitation time.
Conversely, the non-custodial parent might refuse to return the child after visitation. Judges will generally order make-up time to the parent who lost visitation with the child because of the other parent’s refusal. Many courts will also order both parents to attend counseling or mediation.
Contempt of Court for Violation of Visitation Order
When someone repeatedly abuses a visitation order, a judge can find that parent in contempt of court. This usually results in the violating parent having to pay the other parent’s attorney’s fees and legal fees for bringing the problem to the attention of a judge. Contempt can also result in the violating parent serving jail time. Usually, this is only for a short period of time if the parent promises to follow the visitation terms of the custody order in the future.
Criminal Charges for Violation of Visitation Order
In some states, interference with the visitation terms of a custody order is a criminal offense. This is particularly true if the parent abuses the court order repeatedly. Some states are less strict about criminal charges than others. In some areas, the violating parent must keep the child for a period of days, in spite of the other parent’s objections, before the police will become involved.
Child Endangerment Changes the Rules
In some situations, a custodial parent can refuse to turn the child over for visitation. If the other parent has been drinking alcohol and is driving, for example, the custodial parents would be within rights to cancel the visit. If there is evidence that the child is being abused in the custodial parent’s home, a non-custodial parent can refuse to return a child to this dangerous environment. Since these situations are serious, you might need the help of an attorney to bring the problem to the attention of a judge
A Family Law Lawyer Can Help
California child custody is a complex issue that often requires legal assistance to handle. If court ordered custody and/or visitation have not been established, a parent will need to seek this type of ruling to ensure unhampered visitation.
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