We hear about it all the time… Custodial parents interfere with the other parent’s ability to see their children. The only real recourse is to bring it before the court and seek a contempt finding. We counsel our clients that this is the only way to get the custodial parent’s attention. Sometimes it works, but in a recent case, despite the father’s efforts, he still was not granted relief.
The father in the case of McCormick complained about his missed parenting time with his sons. He filed a contempt petition, informing the court that he had missed 43 visits. The father sought to hold his ex-wife in contempt because she would allow the boys to do just about anything before she’d honor the parenting agreement. If the boys had a sleepover with friends, they did that instead of seeing their father. If the boys had football practice, they would do that instead of seeing their father. The list went on and on.
The ex-wife argued that she tried to get the boys to the visits, but often they didn’t want to go because the visit interfered with other things that they wanted to do. She didn’t want to fight with them, so she essentially allowed them to miss the visits. The mother testified that she did not believe she acted willfully and that she tried to get the children to visit. The trial court stated that the mother had made some technical mistakes, but found that the children missed visits due to their own willfulness. Therefore, the Court refused to hold her in contempt.
Although the father lost in his appeal, the Appellate Court did state that the mother now knows that she cannot put the children’s activities in front of the father’s parenting time. Any new violations by the mother may be considered contumacious since she can no longer claim that she was unaware that her behavior could hold her in contempt.