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What Can You Do if the Other Parent Doesn’t Return the Children on Time

by Steve Fritsch on February 1, 2017

When you go through a contentious divorce that involves children, sticking to a regular visitation schedule can prove difficult at times. If your ex still harbors feelings towards you, or wants to hurt you for any reason, they may try to put the children in the middle by refusing visitation. They may also be consistently late dropping the children off to you, making it difficult for you to maintain any kind of normal schedule with your kids. When you and your former partner are struggling with the child custody arrangement and your children aren’t returned to you on time, there are several legal actions you can take.

Go to the Police with the Court Order

When you have a visitation schedule that clearly outlines it is your visitation time with the children, you can bring the court order to the police station. You will need to provide contact information to the police regarding the parent who is keeping your children from you. While you may not want to get the police involved in the lives of your children, this may be the only recourse you have to get your children in your care during your rightful visitation schedule.

File an Order to Show Cause

If you don’t want the police involved in your custody battle with your ex, you can also file an Order to Show Cause because of the interference with your custodial rights. In some family courts, interfering with your visitation is a criminal act and there are number of sanctions that can be placed on your ex for holding the children from you against the visitation schedule. If you show that your ex kept the children from you against the visitation schedule, you may be awarded make-up time with the children, or the court can even consider a full change of primary residential custody.

How an Ex Can Try to Defend Their Actions

As children get older, their needs and wants will hold more weight. A child who is 14 years old can choose to remain at the home of one parent over the other, without custodial interference charges holding up in court. While it is not as simple as giving the child what they want, not returning a child home at the scheduled time if the child doesn’t want to go there does not mean automatic interference with the visitation schedule.

If an Ex Claims the Child is In Danger

Your former spouse may try all kinds of tricks to try and keep the children from you. They may try to say that your home isn’t safe and that they didn’t send the children to you because they are in danger in your care. In addition, they may try to prove that you are an unfit parent by calling Child Protective Services. While this can all be extremely overwhelming, it is up to you to remain as calm as possible. If you don’t have legal representation, it’s time to find the money to do so. You have a right to parent your children, and you may need to defend that right against an ex who is determined to make it difficult for you to be in their lives.

When Child Protective Services are Called

Child protective services receives calls from vindictive ex spouses all the time. While a call from a social worker may make you nervous, this is part of the game your ex might play to try and prove you are a bad parent. If you are called by a social worker after an allegation of abuse or neglect is filed, stay calm. Let them know that custody and visitation are contentious between you and your ex. You have the right to have a lawyer represent you if an ex continually tries to get child protective services after you, and it will help your stress if you allow a lawyer to handle the mess.

It is never going to do the children any good if two parents are continually fighting over who is the better parent, or who can provide more. When your ex refuses to allow the children to visit with you, or threatens consistently to keep the children from you, you have legal rights. The problem is, fighting for these rights can be overwhelming and exhausting. If you are trying to fight against an ex who is relentless on your own, it’s time for you to get the help you deserve. When you have a lawyer working for you, they will handle communication between you and your ex, and they will know what to file in court to get you the support you need. Your life doesn’t have to be controlled by your ex, but you might have to make a financial investment in legal help to make this happen.

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