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What Legal Options Do I Have if My Co-Parent is Refusing to Let Me See My Children on My Scheduled Time?

Going through a divorce or separation is one of the most challenging experiences a person can face, especially when children are involved. In an ideal situation, both parents would follow the agreed-upon or court ordered visitation schedule allowing the children to spend time with each parent without any issues. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, one parent may refuse to let the other parent see their children during their scheduled custody time. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to understand your legal options and take the appropriate steps to maintain your custodial time with your children.

In California, there is a presumption that it is best for the children to spend time with both parents unless evidence that suggests visitation would not be in the child’s best interest. If your co-parent repeatedly denies you access to your children during your scheduled custody time, you may need to take legal action to enforce your time with your children.

Legal Options for Custody and Visitation

Attempt to Resolve the Issue Amicably

Before taking legal action, it is always best to resolve the issue amicably with the other parent. If possible, schedule a time to sit down and discuss the situation calmly and rationally. Explain your concerns and express your desire to maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship for the benefit of your children. Sometimes, open and honest communication can help resolve misunderstandings or disagreements.

Seek Mediation

Mediation involves a neutral third party who helps facilitate communication and negotiation between you and your co-parent. This can be a cost-effective way to reach a mutually agreeable solution without going to court. A skilled mediator can help identify the root cause of the visitation issue and work towards a compromise that benefits everyone involved, especially the children. Mediation is often less adversarial than court and can help preserve a more positive co-parenting relationship.

If there is a conflict as to custody and/or visitation once legal action is taken, the California Family Code requires the Court to order what is called Child Custody Recommending Counseling, often referred to as “mediation” and, as such, you will be required to attempt to resolve the issues with custody and/or visitation with a neutral third-party prior to the Judge  Private mediation can be an effective way to resolve conflicts without the need for costly and time-consuming litigation.

If you do not have a Court-Order, file a Request for Order for Custody and Visitation

If you and your child’s other parent do not have a formal court order for timeshare of your children and the issues cannot be resolved without involving the Court, your next option is to file a Request for Order for Custody and Visitation. Be sure to check your county requirements for the forms necessary for this request as each county has different local forms. These forms can be cumbersome and confusing, here you may be best served by seeking the advice of a Family Law Attorney.

Your Request for Order will result in a hearing and, as indicated above, Child Custody Recommending Counseling. This will give you the opportunity to present your preferred timeshare to the Court and to the Court’s Child Custody Recommending Counselor so that you and your co-parent can create or receive and order for the time you each share with your children.

If you already have an order, modify the Visitation Order

In some cases, the underlying issue may be that the current visitation order is no longer appropriate or practical for the family’s circumstances. If so, you may need to file a motion to modify the visitation order.

To modify the visitation order you will need to demonstrate the necessity for the change. If your custody/visitation order was made in a Judgment, you will need to provide evidence that there has been a substantial change in circumstances sufficient to warrant modification of the original order. This could include significant changes in work schedules, relocation, or other factors that make the existing visitation schedule impractical or impossible.

The court will consider various factors like the best interests of the children, each parent’s ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment, the willingness of both parents to provide frequent and continuing contact with the other parent, and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse.

Seek Emergency Orders

If your ex-partner’s refusal to allow visitation poses an immediate risk to your children’s well-being or your relationship with them, you may need to seek emergency orders from the court. The basis for an Emergency Order is imminent harm to the child and, thus, should only be sought where there is an urgent risk of harm to the child or harm to the parent-child relationship.

Emergency orders are temporary orders designed to address urgent situations until a more permanent solution can be reached. These orders can include temporary custody arrangements, or orders to prevent the removal of the children from the state or country.

To obtain an emergency order, you will need to provide evidence of the immediate risk or harm to your children or your relationship with them. The court will evaluate the situation and determine if emergency action is warranted.

Get the Help You Need Today

At the Law Office of Joyce Holcomb, we understand families’ challenges during divorce or separation. Our experienced family law attorneys are dedicated to providing compassionate guidance and aggressive representation to protect your parental rights. If you are facing a visitation dispute or any other family law issue in California, do not hesitate to contact us for a consultation.

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