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What if he hasn’t returned our kids and I can’t contact him?

June 28, 2018
Custody is the rights to the legal making of decisions pertaining to the life and future of children in a family that has divorced. This generally concerns important issues in life such as education, religion and spirituality, extra-curricular activities, and health care. Custody should not be confused with access time however. After parents choose to separate, there can be serious and lasting conflicts on who gets to spend what time with the beloved kids. This can encompass where the children will live full-time and how the time between them is divided with the kids, particularly on birthdays and important holidays.

Child Visitation Agreements – Purpose and Practice

The answer to these thorny issues is the child visitation agreement. The court arranges this in an effort to fairly divide the quantity and quality of time that children spend with both parents. In the absence of such visitation rights agreements, mothers commonly gain the main rights of parenting and primary residence.

The problems arise when visitation is established, yet one parent chooses not to agree to or practically uphold the guidelines. At this point, the other parent will need to take immediate action. This often requires the services of a visitation lawyer to effectively intervene in and resolve.

The parenting plans are also referred to as visitation agreements and custody judgments. They spell out all responsibilities and rights for either parent in a contractual format. The judge enters them as legally binding orders.

Such a parenting plan will cover all important issues of residence and time sharing like type of custody (shared, sole, or joint), visitation dates and times, parental rights for attending sporting events and school grounds, and rights to shared knowledge on all doctor appointments and medical issues which arise concerning the children. This legal agreement binds each parent to its tenets.

What Happens When One Parent Withholds a Child from Visitation Rights?

A visitation rights’ situation grows quite serious after one of the parents elects to keep the children from their rights of visitation with the other parent. Custodial parents often try this tactic in an effort to force the other parent to pay back child support, to spite them because of lingering anger over the divorce, or to force them to arrange necessary transportation for the children.

Legally, visitation rights can not be intertwined with or made conditional on child support payments. These are entirely separate issues. Judges do not at all like one parent causing violation of the visitation agreement in a valiant effort to gain overdue child support payments. It could lead to the visitation agreement offending parent losing primary rights to custody of the kids. Such a scenario is currently happening between formerly married movie stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, as she withholds court-ordered visitation rights from him quite often.

Many different American states judge the withholding of legally stipulated visitation rights from the other parent a criminal offense. Such prosecution typically only happens when it becomes a habitual offense. Yet it is a serious threat to be ruled in contempt of the court when a judge decides that the one parent is keeping the children from their other parents’ visitation rights according to the court-specified schedule.

When custodian parents sometimes refuse parenting time that the courts have specified, the non-custodian parent ought to note all times and dates with a request to obtain like makeup time. Should the primary care parent refuse to reschedule such lost time, the non-primary care parent can engage a child visitation lawyer.

The injured individual should never simply take the child in retaliation. It is best to approach the court with a “clean slate” so that the judge will see their grievances and intervene on their behalf. It would mean still paying the child support payments and requesting fair makeup time with the children in writing (which creates an official paper trail for the judge).

If things can not be equitably worked out harmoniously, then the aggrieved parent ought to file a request for an emergency motion. This would get him or her in front of the judge in only days to resolve the issue rapidly. It would be the court that decided the ultimate outcome and issued orders.

What Happens When One Parent Continuously Violates the Court-Sanctioned Visitation Agreement Arrangements?

It represents a real violation of a court order if and when the primary custodian continues to withhold arranged visitation hours. Some states allow for the non-custody parent to appeal to the police to enforce the visitation rights. This needs a written copy of the visitation agreement to show the police in person.

This is not the best way to resolve such impasses though. Police getting involved often leads to more complex issues with both custodial parents bitterly verbally arguing and sometimes even physically fighting, causing stress for the poor impacted children. A better plan of attack is to file the petition for the court to physically enforce all mandated visitation rights. Judges have been known to countermand the original primary custody arrangements when the one parent refuses to comply with the agreed upon court orders. The denying parent can be arrested in many states and even held in prison for contempt of the court.

What If He Hasn’t Returned our Kids and I Can’t Contact Him?

This is a definite reason for the emergency motion appeal to the court. A judge will intervene and possibly consider it a matter of child kidnapping if the other parent simply disappears with the children. Unfortunately, this can and does happen every day of the year though, in particular if the child prefers the father greatly over the mother when the mother is the primary custodian of the kids.

The kidnapping father may start a new life with the children under a new name in an entirely different state or even country. There have been cases where it took years or even decades to track down the offending spouse and missing children so that the courts could effectively intervene. Any spouse who goes this route had better be prepared to live off of the grid or under an entirely unknown alias if he does not want to be found and subsequently lose all access to the beloved children on some future day of reckoning. The courts are always the place to resolve these issues, not with an act of paternal vigilantism.

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