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Divorced Dads Tips: What Does Reasonable Visitation Really Mean?

Mar 2, 2008
DISCLAIMER: The following is NOT legal advice, nor is it a substitute for legal advice. If you are in Family Court you will need legal advice, so please see a lawyer.

Often in Family Court orders you see Visitation / Access orders that spell out that a divorced dads time with the children will be described as follows:

The father is to have reasonable access as the parties may agree.

That's a really meaningless Court order if there is disagreement and no father should ever agree to it in my view. But way too often most dads have no idea what they are agreeing to. Here's one story from a father speaking with myself and Heidi Nabert that illustrates the point.

It has been a year and a half since I have seen the children because of the fraudulent child support claim of arrears that she filed with the Court. She's denying visitation. The order says: "The father is to have reasonable access as the parties may agree." Do I need an attorney to file something to be able to see his children?

Yes. if you want to end the access denial by the Mom, you will need Court orders.

With a reasonable visitation order she calls all the shots and we just now know what reasonable means As I said, she could have worn me out. I am paying a certain amount every month and but was unable to pay because I was in school for awhile. What's the first step be for a person wanting to see their children in this situation? Do they need an attorney?

Well, it is always advisable to have an attorney. It really comes down to you ought to take a look at what your budget is and how far you are going to be able to get and very often it turns out that these things can go on for such a long time that you can run out of money, so the first place that you need to start is to educate yourself about the rules and the law within the jurisdiction that the child is residing and understanding what that procedure is.

One of the things though that I wanted to just jump in and say though is if he is dealing with a possible arrest warrant and he has got arrears on child support, he really should deal with that probably more so because obviously if he is arrested and put in jail, he is not going to be able to do anything and we see this a lot. If you are in school and unable to pay, the unfortunate thing is it is not like he just fills out a piece of paper that says, "Well, I am in school now and this is how much I am living on. I can't really pay what I was ordered on the original court order." You must go back to court when you need to change your child support.

Usually every time.

The only reason you are going to go back to court is to reduce your child support. This is where guys lost their jobs. They have been laid off or they have been injured or any number of reasons. This is just exactly the time when they do not have the money to go back to court with a lawyer. It kind of defies logic but you need to deal with that. If he has got a legitimate set of circumstances, he needs to get those things taken care of if he does not have that arrest warrant hanging over his head. Now, each state and province has an enforcement agency. I would definitely recommend contacting the enforcement agency and seeing if there is any kind of assistance to help with getting the right document. Even if they are not able to help you fill them out, maybe they can tell you, "Okay, these are the forms you have to fill out." Then try and see if there is some sort of legal assistance office nearby.

There are programs within the court itself.

There can be programs within the court or you might be able to book a couple of hours with an attorney to go over this with you and just say, Look, we don't have a lot of money but we really need some assistance. There are legal clinics. There are some areas where you have maybe even assistance from some local universities and colleges that have a legal program. I do not want you to just give up. I want you to start looking for some resources that may be available in your area. Okay? I really would encourage you to do that.

Absolutely. In the United States, the child support just like here in Canada is taken very, very seriously. Some of the laws can be quite draconian in the US when it comes to child support.

They have child support round-ups where the sheriff goes out and makes arrests of those in arrears of their child support. But getting back to the reasonable visitation order. You need to go back to Court to deal with both issues.

The bottom line is this: This divorced dad needs to vary / reduce child support appropriately and that should be retroactive to the change in income.

If he had no other choice but to go to school, he will do better than if you just quit your job to do that. Judges frown on dads who act that way. All divorced dads MUST pay the support they are capable of earning before doing anything else, unless there is truly no other option.

Second, you need a "specified visitation order" that clearly spells out your time with the child including birthdays and all holiday periods.

Finally if you have the right evidence, you may be able to obtain a police enforcement order that helps you to get the Police assistance if visitation interference / access denial persists.

Education is the key to resolving these problems. And that is exactly what we advocate in all of our articles and teleseminars educating Divorced Dads like you, so you can fulfill the most important role you will ever have the job of being Dad to your child.
About the Author
Danny Guspie - Executive Director of Fathers Resources International can help you learn the successful strategies of fathers who have won in Family Court. Join us on our weekly calls at

where we will share with you what works for successful divorced dads.
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