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child custody enforcementBy Daniel Exner

Milwaukee Divorce Lawyer

When your ex-wife violates the child custody or visitation order and denies your parenting time, many divorced dads wonder if they should immediately call the local police.

Unfortunately, enforcement of a divorce decree sometimes depends on the attitude of your local law enforcement.

In general, there are two ways to enforce a child custody or visitation order: with police intervention or through the court with a Motion to Enforce.

A court order that mandates or prohibits conduct is typically executable through the police. For example, orders to arrest, seize property, or for injunctions, depend on law enforcement agencies to be effective. Orders for parenting time carry the same court authority and therefore are technically enforceable by the police.

There is, however, a disconnect between theory and practice. In many cases, police officers might be unwilling to get involved in a family law dispute unless the conduct rises to a criminal infraction (i.e. child abuse or parental kidnapping).

The police may tell you to take it up with the court. If an officer is willing to help, he may call the opposing party and demand compliance or escort you to pick up the children.

If the police are unwilling to get involved, you can always file a Motion to Enforce with the court. A Motion to Enforce tells the court that the opposing party has failed to comply with the child custody order and is unreasonably denying you visitation

Read Related Articles:
Enforcement Of Divorce Decrees

Motions to Enforce are conceptually similar to Contempt Motions except they must be heard within 30 days by law, at least where I practice. At an enforcement hearing, you can ask the court to:

1) reaffirm the placement schedule;

2) award you make-up days for the lost parenting time; and

3) order the opposing party to pay your attorney fees and/or court costs.


divorce lawyer Daniel ExnerCordell & Cordell has men's divorce lawyers located nationwide. To schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney, including Milwaukee Divorce Lawyer Daniel Exner, please contact Cordell & Cordell.


Comments (9)Add Comment
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written by Ashley, January 04, 2012
Not calling the police resulted in my boyfriend losing his split parenting time with his children, he went from getting them for six months out of a year down to just two...
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Words from experience
written by DAcc, April 10, 2012
I can tell you first hand that this is correct. It does depend on the officer, but it also helps to be very calm and collected. I went to visit my kids and I did a lot of researching and verifying with the County PD of where I was visiting. Here are some hints that I feel will really help.

Have a copy of your decree with you. If you have corresponded via e-mail or text, print them out, but make sure that you have been calm and amicable in every aspect of the correspondence otherwise the officer will still see you are on the brink of aggression.

You can call the dispatcher and ask questions pertaining to what your decree says and any other questions that you can think of that your ex may rebuttal with. Cover all your bases. Once you have gotten all answers taken care of, you need to actually talk to an officer prior to picking up your child(ren).

Get to a place just a block or two away from the ex's home and call dispatch stating you want to have an escort and consult with an officer regarding your visitation and you're wanting to keep the piece. This is crucial b/c now the officer knows you are wanting to be amicable, calm, collected, and just want visitation with your child(ren).

The police officer(s) will come and just let them know casually what your intentions are and that you want no problems, just want to spend time with your child(ren). Also re-ask questions that you have already asked the dispatcher b/c now you physically have an officer that will be with you. Finally you will both go to get the child(ren) and three things will occur

1 - The mother can deny the visitation and the police CANNOT obtain the child(ren)
2 - The mother has left the house regardless of your information to pick up the kids (must have this proof in writing)
3 - The wife will give you the child(ren)

Here's is what happens if the first two things occur. The officer may or may not create a police report, but you have still have a case number regarding what had just happened and you can use this to build your case against your ex regarding child alienation, visitation refusal, contempt of decree for visitation, etc. Whatever you wanna call it, it will help in your case for later.

I'm no attorney, or paralegal, but I'm beginning to do my own research and finding ways not to get stepped on and have my kids when it's my time and escape from the dictatorship of my ex. I enjoyed having my kids and loved them to death that weekend. I hope this helped you.
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written by jp ippoliti, December 20, 2012
I'm going through the same problem with my ex. She pulls visits because she thinks I'm unstable. She lives very far away and her accusations have no grounding...they are heresay I have sent mean texts but not threatening. I'm really missed and I want to know what my best course of action would be. I haven't seen my daughter in 2 months. Have a restraining order from another girl can that be used against me?
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Same problem
written by Keith, May 29, 2013
My daughter 16 yo, the last time I had visitation was when she was 12yo. Her mother refuses to give me her address therefore I have no idea where me child is located. Because of this I can not exercise my court ordered parenting time. I finally got a lucky break my ex went for a increase of child support in doing so she had to give her address to TAG. Since I have many times contacted the, asking if they had a updated address they mailed me her current address. I sent a letter with copy of the court order stating my intention to exercise my rights. Two weeks pasted it was my court ordered weekend and I went to her rental house at the court ordered time and date. My ex had moved and taken my child with her and this time she has not updated her address with TAG. I need help I have no idea where to turn at this point she is like a ghost. No property in her name, no house phone in her name, no utilities in her name nothing I can't find her because she owns nothing! Amy. And all suggestions are welcome I have hire two lawyers over the past four years and they all say the same thing find her and it can be I forced. Dear God my child will be an adult thinking I don't love her enough to co tact her before this is over.
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I can't believe some people
written by Really want to see my kids, November 01, 2013
Sorry to hear you all are going through this kind of stuff. I myself am going trough the same thing. I am the mother though. I know this is dads divorce site but I am nothing like the moms you have to deal with. I have been civil with my ex since I left him for beating for the last time. he's been trying to keep our daughter from me despite a joint custody court order in place. I missed Halloween last night and so many other days because he's refusing to give me my daughter. he's filed another molestation accusation on me to try and get full custody easier (my daughter has never been molested, especially in my care) he's been harassing me for two years. I just want to see my daughter with no problems and live life happily without him. I'm trying to research what I can do. despite all his false accusations which lead to CPS getting involved to interview me (which leaves my name in the system forever now) I am still civil with him for the sake of our daughter. I seem to be the only one who cares for her. I ALWAYS prove him wrong in court cause I have so much proof but it's very tiring and heartbreaking having to fight for my innocence and him violating court order. What should I do?
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My Girlfriend's Criminal Ex
written by Terrenord, July 23, 2014
Both my girlfriend and I have custody agreements with our respective ex's, but the difference being that her ex is a drug dealer, and my ex is a white-collar manager. I have 50/50 custody in which my son switches houses every week, which has never been a problem, and my girlfriend has an order that basically has no specific times, but states that both parents have to agree to the visitation. It's never been a problem because my step-son's father only shows up every six months for 15 minutes, but lately he's been trying to come around almost every day. He is a very bad influence in our family's life. He's connected to gangs and dangerous, but we don't have the tools to deal with him. I am an academic working at a university, and my girlfriend is a director of a clinic. We work within the law, whereas the father does not. He threatens her and uses intimidation to get around the custody agreement, which we would like to enforce reasonably (give him a Saturday every second week and an evening or something). We are learning that the law only works for people who follow it, and the police don't care. Even if they did care, in order to enforce the order we would have to spend a fortune for another piece of paper that a criminal won't care about anyway. This man is going to try turn his son into a criminal like himself. He is a danger to our family. The law doesn't work. This is why people work outside the law.
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8/16/2014
written by Mike, August 16, 2014
My ex has been giving me and my wife problems ever since we got married 4 years ago till this day we are still going through the same thing I'm on child support I pay her 1,200 a month I have my visitation rights and on my court order states anyone can get my kids for me she hates my wife for no reason so when my wife try to pick up my kids for my weekend wouldn't let my wife get them b/c I wasn't there but I couldn't make it I had to work the cops weren't no help so my wife had to leave without my kids what can I do? Can she even get in trouble for that? She suffers from bipolar/depression so it's been hard dealing with her I need some help I try talking to lawyers but hasn't got anywhere please someone help me with correct facts on what I should do?
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Hey mike...
written by jason, August 23, 2014
I know exactly what you're talking about. I will make this very easy, go to the courthouse and file a motion to enforce.once they enforce the decree you already have that says either you or your wife can pick up, keep the original and the new motion with you. Have your wife keep a copy with her as well. If she refuses to give you the kids she can simply call the police show them the original order and the new enforcement order. she will have no choice at that point.
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Motion of Enforcement
written by Frank, September 20, 2014
Hey Mike & Jason,

I dont mean to be pesimistic, because I am going throught the same thing right this second. I wish you were right Jason...but here in Texas you would not be right. Thew cops say "they cannot force her to comply and that you , WILL HAVE TO TAKE HER TO COURT" because it is 'CIVIL" which is bullchit and of course it will cost you attorney fees and then when you get to court she may only recieve a slap on the wrist if that. I am not saying dont do it...cause I am most definately going to try and do it...but I am saying that it is an uphill battle...but definately one worth fighting.


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