FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!

Dynamic Plaques - FVT Plaques
FVT Plaques is introducing new dynamic plaques to recognize police and sheriff's...

Security Policy and the Cloud

Ask The Expert

Mark Rivera

FBI-CJIS Security Policy Compliance Officer

Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.


Enforcing Visitation Rights

The law may support the non-custodial parent's right to visitation, but it is usually very time consuming, expensive and difficult to enforce.

March 01, 1996  |  by Donna Lea Hawley

Unit 323 John and a unit to cover, respond to a 415 protect the peace ... Mr. Nichols says his former wife will not let him pick up his children. He has a court order for visitation and wants her arrested." Ofc. David Farley, who has contacted Nichols on previous occasions, once again responds to the domestic-related call. But he realizes his hands are tied until the dispute is resolved in court.

The law may support the non-custodial parent's right to visitation, but it is usually very time consuming, expensive and difficult to enforce. Usually the custodial parent is the mother; the non-custodial parent is the father who has visitation rights in the custody order. Often the father's problems start with the wording of the custody order, which is greatly compounded by the mother's lack of cooperation. Unless there's been child abuse accusations, the mother's actions are usually aimed at hurting the father. But in the long run, it's the children who suffer.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Of course, not all cases have problems. Some non-­custodial parents never want to visit, contact or finan­cially support their children. Although this generally isn't a legal reason to prevent visitation, it compounds the bitter feelings between the parents and the prob­lems with visitation.

Custodial parents can frustrate visitation rights by:

  • disagreeing as to what is "reasonable" visitation, when the custody order merely states that there be rea­sonable access to the non-custodial parent;
  • constantly refusing to let the child go with the non-custodial parent-even when a set time is stated in the custody order;
  • neglecting to take or allow the child to go to the pre­determined place for pick-up by the non-custodial parent (i.e., making the child stay home "sick" from school, not tak­ing the child to daycare that day, etc.);
  • phoning immediately before the pick-up time and saying they have other plans, the child is sick, etc.;
  • disregarding or ignoring requests for the child to attend special events with the non-custodial parent;
  • ignoring the time schedules and arriving home late on pick-up day; or
  • turning the child against the non-custodial parent so the child refuses to allow visitation.

In the Hands of the Court

With visitation rights, everything starts and ends with the court order. According to the law, the courts must consider "the best interests of the child" to determine the primary residence. This is generally based on emotional, physical, social factors. In some places, however, the attitude of the custodial parent toward the non-custodial parent is a factor.

According to Florida statutes (s. 61.13), the court must consider "the parent who is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the nonresi­dential parent."

It is also a universal principle that the right of visitation derives from the right of custody and is controlled by the same legal principles (Jackson v. Jackson 185 A.2d 725). This means that a non-­custodial parent has the same rights in regards to the child. But it does not mean that the non-custodial parent has the same legal means to enforce a visi­tation order as the custodial parent has to enforce a custody order. A custodial parent can have law enforcement assist in recovering a child held by a non-cus­todial parent as an abduction or "kid­napping," but the reverse is not true. Likewise, a custodial parent has the right to an order of habeas corpus against a non-custodial parent who retains possession of the child wrong­fully, and the reverse is not available.

Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

francia hanson @ 9/5/2012 8:15 AM

where i sure go too someone help get visitation right or enforce my rights is at mother !!

Paul @ 1/4/2016 5:11 AM

I do know of a couple of States have criminal charges for custody interference my state is one 22-19-9 sdcl, but law enforcement is just to stupid to enforce it

jon deaux @ 2/22/2016 12:17 PM

In my state, Interference With Custody is a criminal offense, and my local sheriff's department is willing to enforce this law, but he city police department refuses because "it's a civil matter".

After the judge gave my ex-wife yet another verbal scolding at our last court hearing for denying me access to my children, I told my ex-wife that I was fed up with the courts inaction, and that I would have her arrested and prosecuted if she denied me access to my children or their school or medical records again.

I also have an undated emergency petition for a custody change because I will not leave my children in the care of her ex-boyfriend while she is in jail because he is so lazy that my ex-wife has to tie his shoes for him.

mike john @ 4/7/2016 6:00 AM

A lot of this article is totally wrong. The police are not really law enforcement officers, they enforce public policy, which is somewhat different; notwithstanding the blending of these terms in recent times.

There is no such thing as "bring the police" in a civil matter; even you presence is intimidating, and a act of official oppression- acting like you have the power to do something you do not- for example enforce a civil order.

Civil orders are ultimately enforced by contempt proceedings, including an arrest warrant enforced by a sheriff or constable. getting involved in a civil matter is a slippery slope because inevitably the police office tends to project his own ideas and values into the situation.

The police or even sheriffs cannot be directed to "help get custody" of a child, or to "enforce" a family court order. Police and Sheriffs do make arrests, either on probable cause or under a warrant. Otherwise, Police and Civil not not mix.

Join the Discussion

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Stories

Police Product Test: AE Light AEX35/50 HID Searchlight
This is a searchlight. It is designed to blast a wide beacon of daylight over a very long...
Police Product Test: Dickies Men's Stretch Ripstop Tactical Pants
Dickies' Ripstop Tactical Pants retain the rugged functionality that has made Dickies...
2016 Police Eyewear
New police eyewear for 2016 will shield your eyes from the sun and more when you're on or...
Give Me an Unlisted Number, Please
Any officer who is on social media should know it makes us too easy to find. So here are a...
You Can’t Lead from Behind
President Obama needs to get out from behind the podium and talk to officers and the...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Zip Code:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine