My ex and I just finished a very long and drawn-out divorce. During the last few months, she has severely restricted my access to my children. Now that the judge has signed off on the parenting plan, I intend to follow it to a "T." However....I have a strong suspicion that my ex will continue to ignore my court-ordered parenting time. (She has the tendency to intentionally not be home at the designated pick up time, and she won't answer any calls or texts.) Before now, our custody agreement was verbal only, so I didn't really have any recourse when she denied my visitation. But if she continues to deny my parenting time, what is the best way to document each occurrence? Will a detailed journal / log book suffice?If I have to take my ex back to court for contempt, my worry is that unless I have concrete proof that she is withholding the children, she will just lie about it. She could claim that she did have the children available for pickup and I never showed up, etc. She is not above lying if necessary. Can I file a police report every time she refuses to give up the children during my visitation time? Will the police / sheriff's dept. even assist with this type of issue?
Write her a letter and send it certified mail after the first time she does not follow the PP and advise that is she does it again you will be filing a contempt action. The best way to confirm that she is not there is to have someone with you who can write a declaration confirming that fact.
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Judges like it if you keep a calendar. There is a great case on contempt for failure to honor a parenting plan - Marriage of Rideout, where the court said: “Parents are deemed to have the ability to comply with orders establishing residential provisions and the burden is on a noncomplying parent to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she lacked the ability to comply with the residential provisions of a court-ordered parenting plan or had a reasonable excuse for noncompliance.” (Rideout)
In re Marriage of Davisson, 131 W. App. 220, 225, 126 P.3d 76 (2006);
In re Marriage of Rideout, 150 Wn.2d 337, 352-53, 77 P.3d 1174 (2003). You can find these cases with Google Scholar.
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Any violation of the court ordered parenting plan is contempt of court. You can file a motion to enforce the parenting plan. The court will often order make-up visits. Repeated contempt findings by the court will often result in a change of custody. Keep good notes of what happens. Bring a witness with you to get the kids; they can support what you say with their sworn declarations. The police will often (but not always) help enforce the parenting plan; usually this is when she's inside, you're outside, and she refuses to turn over the kids. You need a certified copy of the parenting plan for this to work. See my AVVO Answers and Legal Guides on divorce, parenting plans, motions for contempt, and petitions to modify for more information about the legal issues raised by your inquiry. Please keep in mind that although my AVVO Answers and Legal Guides are often informative, they are no substitute for legal advice from an attorney you have retained for consultation or representation. There are always exceptions to the general rules. To find my Answers and Legal Guides, click on my photo. On my AVVO home page click on "Contributor Level - View Contributions" or scroll down further and click on "Contribution - Legal Guides" or “Answers.” Scroll down the list of my Legal Guides or do a topic search in my Answers and select those which are relevant to your question. If you like my Answers and Legal Guides, please make sure you mark them as “helpful” or “best answer”. Thanks in advance for your support. © Bruce Clement
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