What You Should Know About Enforcing Visitation in NJ
Divorces are meant to be final. Child custody and parenting time arrangements incorporated into a final divorce decree are meant to be the final word on the matter. In reality, circumstances change, and people do not always adhere to their legal requirements. Post-divorce co-parenting can be difficult and combative. If your ex refuses to let you exercise your visitation rights, you have certain remedies available to you, but it is important to go about enforcing your rights in the proper manner. Continue reading for tips on how to enforce your visitation rights, and call an experienced New Jersey child custody and parenting time attorney with any questions or for help with a New Jersey family law matter.
Try to Work it Out, Then Go to Court
Your first step with any visitation dispute should be to try to work it out with your ex. Getting the courts involved should never be your first resort. If you can find a way to communicate with your co-parent and resolve the issues, or at least get them to let you exercise your legal rights, you will save yourself significant time, energy, and money. If your co-parent continues to prevent you from exercising your custody or visitation rights, however, you have legal remedies available to you.
When you are subject to a visitation arrangement, always keep in mind potential problems down the road. Keep notes of any missed visitation and how you attempted to resolve the situation. While custody orders set the official rules, courts understand that real-life obstacles can get in the way of set schedules. You and your spouse should both allow for flexibility should something unexpected arise. If alterations to the schedule become the norm, you may need to alter the general schedule. The better notes you have kept about how the situation has progressed, the stronger your bargaining position will be should you wind up in court.
Remedies for Non-Compliance
If you have custody and visitation rights under a court order, and your co-parent is not letting you exercise those rights, you have legal remedies available to you. You can go to court, with the help of your family law attorney, and ask the court to enforce your right to visitation. If you can demonstrate that your co-parent has repeatedly refused to allow you the visitation rights you are owed, the court may consider a number of remedies including:
- Issuing an order requiring your ex to comply with the terms of the custody arrangement
- Modifying the terms of the custody arrangement
- Holding your ex in contempt of court, including the potential for fines and even jail time for noncompliance
- Ordering your ex to pay your legal fees for enforcing the custody order
Once you have a court order in hand, you can even enlist the police to help you exercise your custody rights. However, it’s important to think things through–consider how your children might react if they see you show up to their other parent’s house with police in tow. Talk to your New Jersey child custody attorney about your legal rights and obligations and how you can enforce them.
Don’t Withhold Child Support, Other Obligations
The most important thing about enforcing visitation or other parenting time rights is to go through the proper channels. Do not take matters into your own hands. If you are legally obligated to pay child support and/or spousal support, you cannot unilaterally stop paying, even if your ex is violating their court-ordered obligations. Do not take your kids and prevent your ex from exercising their custody rights in turn. Doing so would mean that you are also violating a court order, which puts you in just as much legal hot water. You could lose out on custody rights, owe monetary penalties, and even face jail time.
Seasoned Advice and Zealous Representation for Your New Jersey Custody Dispute
If you need passionate and dedicated legal help with child custody, child visitation, property division, premarital agreements, child support, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.