How to enforce a father's visitation rights

Written by tonya cunningham
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If you are the father of a child whose custodial mother does not abide by a court order for visitation, you may feel helpless and defeated. However, your ex's interference is a violation of a court ruling. If you address your ex's behaviour in court, a judge may even consider your ex's behaviour as contemptuous--which is a criminally punishable offence. In extreme and ongoing situations, interference with visitation can even be ample grounds for a change of custody. Enforcing your rights is essential to ensuring that your child is permitted the benefit of maintaining a secure and stable relationship with both parents.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Follow the court order respectfully. If you feel that your child's mother has interfered with your scheduled visitation, be sure that you are abiding by the wording of the order. If you are to pick your child up at 6 p.m. on a Friday but do not show up until 7:30 p.m. and don't call, it is possible that your ex had plans and needed to take your child to a babysitter. A judge will not take well to either party bending and stretching the order as a way to accuse the other parent of interference. Keep in mind that a family court judge's job is not to scold parents, but rather to decide what is in your child's best interests.

  2. 2

    Keep a log of your visitation attempts. If you were on-time to pick your child up and nobody was home, write down the exact time you came to the house and what happened when you called and knocked on the door. Do everything in your power to give your ex the benefit of the doubt, such as calling her cell phone and perhaps even a relative. When this has happened more than once or twice, your log of experiences will help you to stand your ground in court without fumbling over remembering details, therefore giving the court a clearer picture of the dilemma.

  3. 3

    Contact an attorney. Even if you intend to be self-represented in court, many attorneys will provide free consultations or at least a brief phone call to guide you in the proper direction. At the least, they can tell you what type of form you will need to fill out in court to address the violation of the visitation order. Furthermore, an attorney may be willing to advise you regarding evidence that should be gathered prior to a hearing. If you are able to afford an attorney, legal representation can be the difference between your rights being enforced and risking a legal mistake that could produce little in terms of positive results.

  4. 4

    Visit your family court building and ask for the correct form to file a violation of court order. When filling out this form, you will want to be direct in your request, but brief in summarising the problem. Every dramatic detail of the argument you and your ex had on the phone regarding the absence of visitation is not necessary to write on your petition; however, the judge will want to know that your child wasn't home at 6 p.m. for the scheduled visitation twice in a row and the mother could not be reached by phone, so visitations have not occurred. It is essential to bear in mind that a court will not favour a parent who appears to be spitefully dragging their ex into court for personal attacks rather than displaying genuine concern for your relationship with your child.

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