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What happens if I don't take my parenting time?

Many divorcing or separating couples focus the energy on the custody battle stage of court proceedings. However, even after the papers are signed and an order and a schedule are in place, there may still be issues. Visitation interference — where the custodial parent refuses or makes it very difficult for the noncustodial parent to follow the visitation schedule — is a common concern, but noncustodial parents who do not take their ordered visitation can also face legal trouble.

Once a court order is in place, both parties must follow what is outlined in the document or go to the courts to have it changed as necessary. This means that the custodial parent must have the children ready and at the proper place for visitation pickups, and the noncustodial parent is to arrive on time to get the children according to the specific visitation schedule. Any failure to do so on either party's part is considered contempt of the court order.

While it may not happen often, it is possible for a noncustodial parent who is not taking the children according to the visitation schedule to be found in contempt. If the custodial parent brings the issue before the courts and the court agrees that there is a contempt issue, the noncustodial parent may face reprimand as well as be ordered to pay the legal costs the custodial parent incurred.

If you are a noncustodial parent with a visitation schedule, it is important to take your time as stated in the order and let your ex know about any scheduling issues as far in advance as possible. If there are issues preventing you from exercising your parenting time as outlined in the order, a family law attorney can help you understand what to do to see about a modification.

Source: FindLaw, "Legal Custody," accessed Oct. 20, 2015

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