The unenforceable visitation order combines elements of both the “amicable divorce trick” and “using the children as weapons trick.” The success of this trick is primarily a result of a parent not having an attorney to protect them.
When someone I consult with asks me, “do I need an attorney?” I will often pause and think about the variations I have seen of this trick in particular. For that reason, I will often say, “I think an attorney should represent everyone. At least that way they know what they agree to is reasonable.”
Today, I will discuss a couple of the worst tricks I have seen that have made a parent’s visitation order unenforceable.
Example #1 -I have a Standard Visitation Order, Don’t I?
One gentleman I met had gone through a divorce while in the military. He had tried to make sure his family would be taken care of after the divorce. When this gentleman agreed to a visitation order, he thought he was getting standard visitation.
He learned he did not have regular visitation when, after the divorce, he tried to exercise his visitation, and his ex-wife refused to let him see his kids. She told him that he only had standard visitation when she agreed.
The language that his ex-wife’s attorney had placed in the order was for a standard visitation order. However, the attorney had also slipped this language in:
“At this time, the Home Parent and Co-Parent agree that there shall be no visitation.
If at such time the Home Parent and Co-Parent agree to allow visitation, then visitation will be
conducted as agreed to in advance by the Home Parent and Co-Parent.”
This amounted to the gentleman having no visitation unless his ex-wife agreed to him having visitation.
IT IS ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties. In the absence of mutual agreement, it is ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in this Possession Order.
The provision above is what should have been there. The regular provision says that the parents can agree to whatever they want. However, if they cannot agree, they need to follow the order. Then the order will go into detail about how to handle visitation.
The gentleman I met with ended up having to file to modify visitation and spend several thousand dollars to fix a few sentences in his divorce decree.
Example #2 -My Wife Is Denying Me Access to My Children. Can I File an Enforcement?
One of the benefits a visitation order is supposed to provide is that if the other parent is not following the visitation order, you can ask the court for help enforcing the visitation order.
Recently, I met a different man who had concluded his divorce case. On the first weekend he was supposed to exercise his visitation with his child, he arrived at his ex-spouse’s home at 6:00 p.m. to pick his daughter up. He knocked at the door but got no response.
He then texted his ex-spouse’s phone but did not get a response. He left disappointed, frustrated, and angry. He wondered if this was going to become a regular occurrence. Sure enough, it did. That was why he was in my office asking about his options to ensure this didn’t happen again.
I explained how enforcing visitation worked. The judge will need evidence regarding a violation of a court order.
A “PROPER” DENIAL OF VISITATION
Correct Place / Correct Time
First and foremost, it is essential to make sure you are picking your child up at the right time, date, and location.
Once you have confirmed the date, time, and location for your child’s pickup, arrive at the location in advance and wait if necessary.
Knock on the door a few times and make sure that anyone in the home knows that you are present and ready to pick up your child. Don’t just sit in your car in front of the home.
If you do these things and document, you can generally ask the court to enforce your court order.
The Problem with The Man’s Order
A section is usually titled “General Terms and Conditions in most visitation orders.” In this section, there are several essential things included to make a visitation order enforceable, including sections stating:
- Where pick up and drop-offs are to take place
- Orders telling the parent to release the child to the other parent
- Orders telling the parent to return the child to the other parent
This man’s visitation order did not include this section of the visitation order. His order clearly stated he was entitled to visit the child. However, nothing stated where the exchange was supposed to take place or that his ex-spouse had to turn over the child to him.
This meant that he did not have a remedy for enforcing the order. His only solution was to ask the court to modify the order to add this section to the order to be enforceable.
Example #3 -Father Will Not Return the Children to The Police Will and Me Not Help
I met with a woman who informed me she had full custody of her children in a different consult. She had let the children visit their dad in Dallas, but he refused to return the children to her.
She had also reached out to the police, who had refused to help her. They told her it was a civil matter and needed to hire an attorney. I reviewed her order and noticed several problems with it.
Her order did give her sole custody of all the decision-making rights. The attorney in the child support office appears to have tried to pull a similar trick from example one of this article.
However, the attorney left out the line “IT IS ORDERED AND DECREED that mother shall have possession of the child at all times not specifically awarded in this decree to FATHER or otherwise mutually agreed by the parties.”
The attorney also left out the “General Terms and Condition Section.”
What the attorney had included was a one-sentence visitation order “IT IS ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties.”
This meant that the lady I was meeting with did not have a visitation order saying she had any special right to the child or that the father had to return the child to her.
As in the previous scenarios, her remedy was to file to modify her order.
Combatting the Dirty Trick
The easiest way to prevent these problems is to be represented by an attorney whose primary practice is family law.
An attorney who has experience with 1) Divorce, 2) Child Custody, and 3) Enforcing Divorce and Child Custody Orders will be able to recognize this trick and ensure the proper language is in your final order.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce“
If you want to know more about how to prepare, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “13 Dirty Tricks to Watch Out For in Your Texas Divorce, and How to Counter Them” Today!“
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Dirty Divorce Trick – Turning into a Temporary “Helicopter” Parent
- The Dirty Trick of Spousal Spying in a Texas Divorce
- The Dirty Trick of Embarrassing your Spouse During a Texas Divorce
- The Dirty Trick of Damaging, Destroying or Selling Marital Assets in Texas
- The Dirty Trick of Filing for Divorce in Another City
- The Dirty Trick of Moving Out of State with the Kids
- The Dirty Trick of Hiding Assets During Your Texas Divorce
- The Dirty Trick of Wasting Marital Assets or Going on a Spending Spree During Your Texas Divorce
- The Dirty Trick of Engaging in Spousal Starving During a Texas Divorce
- How Much Will My Texas Divorce Cost?
- How Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney’s Fees in a Texas Divorce?
- How am I going to Pay for My Texas Divorce?
- Should I Hide Money from my Spouse to Get Ready for my Texas Divorce?
- 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyer
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