So you’re divorced, and your former spouse has custody of your minor children. Although not happy with this, you accepted that this is how your family would function from here on – with you getting visitation with your children either in accordance with the court’s ruling or with your divorce agreement. Unfortunately, to your dismay, your ex-spouse is unwilling to allow you to exercise your visitation rights. What can you do?
First, we have to differentiate the manner in which your former spouse is interfering with your visitation rights. For example, in the event that s/he interferes and tries to dictate to what you should do with your child/ren all the time during visitation, then your first step should be to give gentle, or assertive feedback about your freedom of choice to spend visitation with the child/ren as you see fit, providing this is in the minor’s good. If this doesn’t help, then application can be made to the court to intervene. The court will probably send a social worker who will meet with all of you (together and/or separately) and will give recommendations on the matter. The court will usually adopt these and recommendations and will issue instructions about visitation, or the court will delegate its powers on this matter to the social worker.
In the event that your ex-spouse prevents you from seeing the children at all or otherwise won’t allow you to exercise your visitation rights in accordance with the divorce agreement and/or divorce judgment, then you can ask the court to enforce your visitation rights and to hold your ex-spouse in contempt of court. If your ex-spouse continues to refuse to co-operate with court initiatives to encourage visitation and consistently breaches court orders, s/he can be fined, and in very extreme cases even imprisoned or can lose custody.