Many times after parties separate, one of the parties withholds the children from the other spouse. Sometimes for good reason. But, if you are the parent not getting to spend time with your children this can be extremely frustrating. But what can you do?
There is No Court Order in Place
If you and your spouse have just separated and neither of you have petitioned the family court for custody, then there is no court order in place governing the custody and visitation of your children. In this case, if your spouse will not agree to allow you time with your children your main option in this case is to file an action in the family court with part of the relief you are seeking being the visitation or custody of your children. At the time your action is filed, a Motion for Temporary Relief can also be filed where you can have a Temporary Hearing within a few weeks to have an order put in place for the pendency of your legal action.
There is an Order and My Spouse Ignores It
When there is already an order in place (whether it is a temporary or final order) either spouse can enforce the provisions of the order against the other spouse by what is known as a Contempt action. If either of you are found to be in willful violation of the Family Court’s order you could be punished by being held in contempt of court which holds penalties of up to one year in jail, community service and/or fines by the Court. This is the “teeth” of the order and most people are not willing to chance jail time just because they do not want their spouse or ex-spouse to have time with the children.