In two previous posts, the subject of child visitation was addressed, including the basic criteria looked at by the court, the different types of visitation, and some specifics concerning supervised visitation. Now we will examine the other side of the process: how visitation plans may be enforced.
Mutual cooperation between parents/ex-spouses is what we believe to be the best course. But as that is also subject to human behavior, this kind of agreement can be difficult to enforce. There are certain legal remedies that are available, however.
- When a visitation order has been in force for a time, it’s possible that one or both parents’ situations and/or schedules has changed, making it difficult to conform to the “old” plan. In that instance, a newly adjusted visitation plan may be developed, or parents may petition the court to decide upon a schedule if the parents are unable to comply.
- In order to be effective, a court-ordered visitation plan must be very specific regarding times, places, etc. when the children concerned will be returned home, or back to the custodial parent. If for any reason an existing plan refers only to vague visitation guidelines, it could be nearly impossible to enforce, and a new plan should be filed with the court, a plan that specifies all pertinent information about visitation parameters.
- Readers may be familiar with the expression “location, location, location,” in reference to real estate, but the same principle applies to visitation as well. That’s because often the location for exchanging children becomes a problem, sometimes the only problem, for one or both parents. The solution can be as simple as a court order to hold the exchange/drop-off at a neutral location, such as a school, rather than at home. The court may also delegate a professional agency location for the exchange, and order that the parents’ pickup times, etc. be monitored for compliance.
- Finally, if one parent is violating or not following the sanctioned visitation plan, the other parent may file a Contempt of Court order, a criminal proceeding, which could result in a penalty like jail time for the non-cooperative parent. This action should be considered a last resort and should not be undertaken lightly; its serious nature involves attorneys on both sides to take action, presumably because the parents themselves have come to a point at which they cannot work together.
Remember, this blog is simply our opinion on a matter. It should not be taken as legal advice. We believe that speaking with or retaining experienced counsel can make all the difference in achieving the best possible results for all parties concerned. If you are would like further information, it could be beneficial for you to consult a knowledgeable family law attorney.
As Orange County’s premier family law specialists, the attorneys at Dinnebier & Demmerle can provide answers to your questions and concerns, clarify and establish your legal rights, and represent you in court. If you would like more information about enforcement of visitation plans or any other aspect of California family law, please call to set up a consultation. We’re ready to move forward when you are. Just contact us in Tustin at 714-598-3714.