Is Your Ex Interfering With Visitation?
What happens if your ex is actively interfering with your ability to see your children during your visitation? What are your rights? What action can be taken? Fortunately, New Jersey takes these allegations seriously, and you can press your legal rights in court.
Few parents will come right out and tell their ex, “You can not see your children,” especially when a judge has ordered visitation. However, some exes use different tricks to frustrate your ability to see your kids. Likely stories include:
* Sudden emergencies and crises that keep your ex from delivering the children to the agreed-upon pick up spot
* Claims that your children are too sick to visit
* Doctor’s visits and other appointments which are scheduled during your visitation
Additionally, some exes simply refuse to respond to your calls or text messages. Weeks go by without you seeing your children or hearing about why visitation was cancelled.
Steps You Should Take
Cancelled visitation is incredibly frustrating and illegal. However, instead of lashing out at your ex, or showing up at his or her house and reading them the riot act, you must maintain your calm. A judge will force your ex to honor the visitation schedule, but first you need to gather evidence.
Write down all dates of missed visitation. Also note whether you have heard back from your ex about why visitation was cancelled and note the reason given. If you have any proof that your ex is lying, hold onto that as well. For example, your ex might claim that your children went to the doctor on a certain day when you receive a bill that shows a visit on a different day.
You also should contact an attorney, who can bring the missed visitation to the court’s attention. Judges have many techniques for forcing your ex to honor the visitation agreement, including:
* Awarding you make-up visits
* Increasing your amount of visitation
* Fining your ex
* Sending him or her to jail for contempt of court In extreme cases, interference with visitation qualifies as a crime. New Jersey statute N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4 makes it a third-degree crime to interfere with visitation. Unfortunately, prosecutors are generally reluctant to get involved in these disputes unless a Family Court judge refers the case for prosecution. If the interference is substantial, you can ask the judge to make a referral.
What to Avoid Doing in Response
Some parents wrongly think that if they are denied visitation they can suspend child support payments. Child support and visitation are separate issues, and you must pay child support even if you do not want to see your child. Remember to make prompt payments whenever they are due.
However, you can file a motion with the court asking that your child support payments be held in escrow until you resolve your visitation dispute. This is an excellent technique for putting pressure on your ex to abide by the visitation schedule and is something you should consider.
Speak with a New Jersey Family Law Attorney
Visitation battles can poison your relationship with your children and deserve an immediate response. Elena K. Weitz, Esq. is an experienced family law advocate who understands that family disputes often survive long after the official divorce decree is issued. To schedule a consultation, contact her today.