The parenting plan and residential schedule that you and your ex develop or the court orders in your divorce or parentage case can be a difficult adjustment, especially for a parent who normally sees his or her children on a daily basis. However, it is even worse when one parent intentionally keeps the children from the other parent or denies him or her visitation with the children. Fortunately, you do have some recourse if your ex refuses to allow you visitation with your children.

In some cases, your ex just flat out denies you scheduled visitation. In other cases, the denial of visitation may be much more subtle. For example, your child might become ill each time you come to pick him or her up for visitation. Your ex might schedule playdates and other fun activities for your kids when you are supposed to be spending time with them. While there are valid emergencies and situations that do suddenly change, a pattern of always coming up with an excuse why you can’t see your children starts to look like denial of visitation rather than a mere coincidence.

If you feel that your ex is purposely denying your visitation with your kids, there are several steps that you should take. First, document everything. Write down the dates and times that your ex denies you visitation and the reasons that he or she gives to you for the denial. Document the dates and times that you are able to spend time with your children. Keep e-mails, text messages, and voicemail messages from your ex in which he or she denies your visitation. These messages can be evidence in support of your claim that your ex is denying you visitation.

Next, don’t stop paying child support if you are ordered to do so. You don’t get to stop paying support just because your ex has been denying you visitation; support and visitation are two completely different issues. Although it may be tempting to retaliate against your ex because he or she has denied you visitation, it only will get you in trouble in the long run. Instead of helping your case, violating a court order yourself will make you look far less sympathetic to a judge.

You should take the time to at least try and discuss any visitation issues with your ex without your children present. Your children don’t need to know the details of your parenting plan or how you think your ex is violating it. In some cases, you may be able to work out the situation or simply agree to be more flexible in making plans. If you can’t resolve the problem, however, you may have to ask the court to intervene and help you get the appropriate amount of visitation with your children. You do this by filing a motion with the court and explaining the situation. The court could increase your visitation rights, order additional visitation periods that you missed in the past, and, in extreme cases, find your ex in contempt of court for violating a court order or order him or her to undergo counseling.

Setting up a fair and effective parenting plan that both parties agree on is never easy, especially if you and your ex are involved in disputes over visitation. During times like these, it is hard to make the decisions that are truly best for you and your family, particularly when it comes to an important issue like parenting your children. The outcome of parenting plans in your divorce or paternity case significantly affects your child’s life, as well as your own, and may do so for years to come. It is in these kinds of cases that a Washington divorce lawyer can be most useful to you and truly make a difference in the outcome of your case. Visit our website at and click on the “Contact Us” button and fill out the online form today. If you contact us online, one of our staff members will get back to you right away.