Child visitation issues are often emotional. Even when there’s a court order that guarantees parenting time for the non-custodial parent, the custodial parent may still attempt to keep the child away from them. This may be for various reasons such as resentment, lack of trust, or getting back at their ex-spouse.
If you’re a parent whose visitation rights are impeded by your ex, you may be wondering if you can legally stop sending spousal maintenance and/or child support. Here’s what you need to know.
Can I Stop Paying Support or Maintenance If My Ex Stops My Visitation?
Visitation or parenting time is a separate issue from alimony and child support. Just because your former partner withholds your parenting time, doesn’t mean you are legally allowed to stop sending court-ordered payments. In fact, stopping your payments could get you in trouble with the court. In short, even if your ex is interfering with your visitation, you shouldn’t stop paying your obligations such as child support and/or spousal support.
Instead, you have legal options to remedy your ex’s withholding of your child. You may try mediation or ask the court for help such as through enforcement (we discuss these options below). But before anything else, consult with a Family Law attorney to see which option is right for your specific situation.
What Can I Do If My Ex Refuses My Visitation?
Together with your lawyer, you may explore these legal options to assert your visitation rights.
If you and your ex can still communicate in a civil manner, you may try to resolve the issue outside of court with the help of a neutral mediator. You can find licensed private mediators, or you can call the court to see if their Family Services Office provides mediation services.
Modification of Parenting Time
In some cases, there are reasonable grounds why your ex is not following the ordered visitation. It may be a scheduling issue or a traveling issue, for example. In these scenarios, a parenting time modification may resolve the issue and enable the custodial parent to obey the visitation order. You’ll need to request the court to modify the existing parenting time into a better arrangement for you and your ex.
Motion for Contempt of Court/ Motion to Enforce Parenting Time
If your ex is deliberately disobeying the court order or keeping your child away from you, you may file a motion for contempt of court. This requires the violating parent to appear in court and explain their side of the story. If the court finds them guilty, they could face penalties such as fines, custody sanctions, or even a short jail time. Depending on the type of contempt you choose to file, you may be able to recover attorney’s fees, if the court awards them.
Enforcement is when the court steps in to address a party’s failure to obey a court order. Filing a motion to enforce your visitation can be more ideal than filing for contempt, because the court prioritizes enforcement motions in its docket.
The court can also impose more sanctions to ensure the violating parent’s compliance moving forward. These sanctions may include requiring the violating parent to post bond against future violations, provide you with makeup parenting time, and attend parenting education programs.
Some parents ask, “Can I call the police whenever my ex refuses to let me see my kids?” This depends on the situation. If you believe that your child is in danger or is being abused, or if there is evidence of parental kidnapping, the police may intervene as these are criminal infractions. In other situations of “civil matter,” it’s the officers’ discretion on how they will handle the court violation.
Note that having the police intervene is not a long-term solution. If you want long-term changes or enforcement of your visitation order, you’ll need to request that from the court, as discussed above.
Call an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Colorado
If you’ve been refused visitation or have concerns regarding your parenting rights in Colorado, reach out to Goldman Law. With 25+ years of combined experience, our lawyers are trusted in Denver and surrounding cities for our excellent Family Law services that have led to favorable outcomes for our clients. We are ready to help you resolve your parenting time issues.
Call Goldman Law today at (303) 656-9529 or send us a message through our contact form.