Visitation

questions & answers

Question: My 15 year old daughter moved back to live with me just over a year ago. My ex and I went to court to change custody and he was awarded 57 days of visitation. I drive my daughter 5 hours to where he lives so she has the opportunity to see him. She does not want to stay at his house because his new wife is verbally and emotionally abusive. He always knows when she is in town and he refuses to see her if she doesn't stay at his house. Do I have to force her to stay with him if I know what she has to go through there? Am I in contempt of court if I do not force her to stay at his house?

Answer:

I would not recommend violating *any* court order concerning parenting time - especially since Father could use that as evidence that you are no longer fit to exercise sole custody. Not only that, yes, you do run the risk of a contempt citation, too. Concerning your daughter, there is a difference between: (1) her having to put up with a female authority figure whom she actively dislikes, or who maybe even treats her distantly or unkindly; and (2) her suffering actual abuse.

You will get absolutely nowhere with #1. That's the reality of divorce, and unfortunately you're going to have to deal with it. #2 is more serious and therefore requires proof - and it will have to be pretty clear proof. This is largely because divorce cases almost *always* create conflict between Ex-Wife and New Wife (not to mention Ex-Husband vs. New Husband, too). As a result, the family courts are usually flooded with claims of abuse, neglect, etc. made by former spouses who resent the presence of a new parental figure in their child's life - or similar claims by teens themselves who simply don't want to have to stay in the non-custodial parent's home and live by his/her rules.

These claims rarely go anywhere, and only inflame an already volatile situation. In other words, if the new wife's treatment of your daughter is so atrocious, so despicable and/or so dangerous that *no reasonable person* would ever tolerate her access to your child, then you should file the appropriate court papers AND make a police/CPS report. (After all, if it's that bad, then the authorities should be involved, right?) Be ready to back it up, too. However, if, upon reflection, the new wife's behavior doesn't seem quite so bad (but is instead simply different from your own parenting style), then you should consider letting it go. In any event, you cannot dictate to your ex-husband where and when he shall exercise his own parenting time without further court intervention, and you will appear both arrogant and absurdly controlling if you try without good cause.

 

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  • My 15 year old daughter moved back to live with me just over a year ago. My ex and I went to court to change custody and he was awarded 57 days of visitation. I drive my daughter 5 hours to where he lives so she has the opportunity to see him. She does not want to stay at his house because his new wife is verbally and emotionally abusive. He always knows when she is in town and he refuses to see her if she doesn't stay at his house. Do I have to force her to stay with him if I know what she has to go through there? Am I in contempt of court if I do not force her to stay at his house?

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