North Carolina law specifies that child custody orders must reflect the best interest of the children. To create a stable environment, this often means that one parent has primary physical custody of the children and the other has visitation rights, even when the parents share joint legal custody. Your visitation time with your children is important for maintaining your relationship with them.
Even with a child custody order in place, some parents refuse to allow their ex-spouse to have their court-ordered visitation. Child custody issues are emotionally charged and can quickly become volatile. These steps will help you regain your visitation and preserve your relationship with your children.
North Carolina Cases: Civil, Not Criminal
Violating a child custody order is a civil issue, not a criminal one. Although your first reaction may be to contact local law enforcement, because this is a civil issue, department policies may not allow officers to intervene unless your children are in imminent danger. Some agencies may allow an officer to accompany you to pick up your children, but they will not remove the child from the other parent.
Document Missed Visits in North Carolina
Any time your ex-spouse withholds visitation, document it in writing. This establishes a pattern since one missed visit is not enough to ask the court for intervention. Keep copies of any communication with your ex-spouse regarding visitation, including text messages, emails, and letters. Make sure that you remain civil with your communication, no matter how your ex-spouse responds.
Pay North Carolina Child Support
If the court has ordered you to pay child support, continue making those payments on time. In North Carolina, child support and visitation are two separate issues. As a parent, you are legally obligated to support your child, and this is what your child support payment does (or is intended to do). If you stop paying child support for any reason, you may be held in contempt of court.
Contact Your Raleigh NC Attorney
Violation of a child custody order is a civil issue, so your attorney can guide you through the process of enforcing the court-ordered visitation schedule.
Your attorney may start the process by writing a letter to your ex-spouse demanding that he or she complies with the child custody order and schedule make-up visits for missed visitation. If your ex-spouse refuses, this gives your attorney reason to take the issue to court.
The next step is to file a petition in the court that granted your child custody order. This asks the court to use its authority to make your ex-spouse comply with the visitation schedule. The court may also order fines or jail time. In some extreme cases, the court may also hold your ex-spouse in criminal contempt, which is more serious than civil contempt.
Hiring an Experienced Child Custody Attorney in North Carolina
If your ex-spouse is not allowing you to visit with your children in accordance with your child custody order schedule, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Jerkins Family Law today. Child custody is an emotionally-charged issue, and our dedicated attorneys can guide you through the process of enforcing your child custody order without sacrificing your relationship with your children. Contact us today.