This is the 3rd installment in a series about enforcing visitation with Contempt written by Virginia Cornwell. Virginia is a A State of Ohio Grandparent Rights Lawyer and Ohio State Bar Association Certified Family Relations Specialist. Virginia is one of approximate 100 attorneys in Ohio to have received this honor.
Enforcing Grandparent Visitation with Contempt of Court
In Ohio, when grandparents have received an order of visitation from the court, they have the right to enforce their order, just like a parent. If grandparents experience one or more occasions where they are denied their visitation, Ohio law provides them with a remedy known as contempt of court (commonly called “filing or file for contempt charges”. To read more about the law regarding contempt of court, click here.
Before you file for contempt of court, you must make sure that you understand your order, and what it means under Ohio law. Common areas of misunderstandings are:
- Transportation: who is supposed to pick up the child and who is supposed to drop the child off? Or are you supposed to meet at a neutral place somewhere in the middle?
- Regular time vs. holiday or vacation time – which controls?
- Missed time – under what circumstances do you get make up time? How soon after do you get make-up time?
- What happens if the child is ill? Does the visitation still occur? If not, is it rescheduled?
Assuming that you are NOT under any misunderstanding about your order, and the other party simply won’t obey the court’s orders, you have rights, and the parent who refused visits is subject to penalties. Pursuant to ORC 3109.051(K) if a court finds any person has denied or interfered with visitation, the court MUST award court costs and reasonable attorney fees to the party who was wronged.
Sometimes, when people do not want to comply with a court’s order, they file a motion to change the order, hoping that if they win, then they won’t get in trouble for what they did while their motion was pending. Unless the denial of visitation was necessary (in the eyes of the court, not the parent) to protect the child, this idea is WRONG. Ohio Revised Code 2705.031 states:
…shall have jurisdiction to make a finding of contempt for a failure to comply with, or an interference with, a parenting time or visitation order or decree and to impose the penalties set forth in section 2705.05 of the Revised Code in all cases in which the failure or interference is at issue even if the parenting time or visitation order or decree no longer is in effect.
The other articles in the contempt series can be seen below:
You may also be interested in our Ohio Grandparents and the Law series: