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Is your former spouse limiting or denying your visitation?

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Child custody and asset division can often bring out the worst in both former spouses during a divorce. You both may want full custody, or your ex may have received temporary custody during divorce proceedings. When that happens, the courts will typically issue court orders requiring you, the non-custodial parent, to pay child support.

There will also be a court order requiring your former spouse to allow you with liberal and reasonable visitation. Many times, the courts are specific about visitation. You may be appointed specific days, holidays or alternating weekends to spend with your children.

While only seeing your children a few days a week can be hard, it can get worse. If your former spouse begins denying your right to visitation, you may not get to see your children at all. When this happens, it can turn your divorce from bad to ugly.

You probably feel angry about not getting to see your kids. Your children are likely sad because they can't spend time with both of their parents. Your ex may be feeling badly about the divorce, which is why he or she won't allow you to see the children. When this happens, no one wins. That's why the courts work to ensure both parents can see the children.

Is your ex guilty of contempt of court?

Because visitation and custody issues are handled via court order, the courts could consider violating those terms to be contempt of court. Unless there is evidence of abuse, your former spouse does not have the right to deny you visitation with your children. The courts generally believe that a strong relationship with both parents is in the best interest of the children. Your former spouse is probably selfishly motivated if he or she refuses to let you see your children.

Maryland law allows for several forms of enforcement for visitation issues. The courts could order make-up visitation for all shortened or denied sessions. They could also modify the divorce and visitation arrangements to ensure there is future compliance. In extreme cases, this could include changing who has primary custody of the children. Your ex may have to pay for your lawyer, too.

It's important to note that child support and visitation rights are separate issues. While you may want to push back against your spouse for denying you the right to see and spend time with your children, doing so could cause legal issues for you.

Instead, you should continue to pay your child support in full and on time as ordered. Your attorney can help you document what your former spouse is doing, which can help you during the final custody hearings. If custody arrangements and your divorce are already finalized, your attorney can help you request enforcement efforts.

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