Going through a divorce is never easy; however, once all the terms have been hammered out and the final judgment is entered it should get easier from there on out right? As long as both parties to the divorce abide by the orders of the court it does, indeed, get a little easier. Sometimes though problems continue after the divorce has been finalized. For example, one common question we hear is “ What can I do if my ex-spouse is not allowing me to see the children? ”
Unfortunately, this occurs frequently. Custody, visitation, and child support are frequently contentious issues in a divorce. Ideally, when minor children are involved the parties are able to reach an amicable agreement regarding these issues; however, when the parties cannot agree on a Parenting Plan for the children the court is forced to create one for them. Whether you and your ex-spouse agreed on your Parenting Plan or the court created the plan, once it became part of the final decree of divorce the terms of the plan became orders of the court. Just as with all other orders of the court that were included in the final decree, both parties are legally required to comply with those orders or face sanctions from the court. If your parenting plan allows you parenting time (visitation) with your children and your ex-spouse is not allowing you that time, your ex-spouse may be violating a court order.
When a party willfully violates a court order in Tennessee the aggrieved party may pursue the matter by filing a Petition for Contempt. Only an experienced Tennessee family law attorney can evaluate your specific circumstances and tell you whether or not your situation warrants filing a Petition for Contempt; however, in general, a Petition for Contempt is used to bring another party back before the court to answer to alleges that the party is willfully violating a standing order of the court, in this case an order allowing you visitation time with your children.
If the court is convinced that the Petition has merit, the court will require your ex-spouse to appear before the court and provide an explanation for violating the court order. If the court ultimately believes that your ex-spouse is willfully violating the court order the court could impose sanctions in the form of fines or even imprisonment in extreme cases. Of course, it is always best to try and resolve issues such as this without the need for court intervention; however, if your ex-spouse refuses to abide by the court ordered visitation schedule you may have no other choice but to return to court.
If your ex-spouse is refusing you access to your children despite a court order allowing you parenting time with the children, consult with the experienced Tennessee family law attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.