If you decide to go to court to enforce your parenting rights if you were married you may file in the Supreme or Family Court. If you were never married you may only file in the Family Court. If you file in the Supreme Court you will almost definitely need to have an attorney prepare the papers for you. If you file in the Family Court the process can be initiated without an attorney, although it would still be better to have an attorney prepare the petition. The procedures in the Supreme Court are not as easy for non-attorneys to navigate. In any event, by the time your case first appears on the calendar it is highly recommended that you have an experienced matrimonial attorney representing you.
The Petition (used in Family Court) or the Affidavit (used in the Supreme Court) must specify the details of the missed visitation. If there is a written agreement or court order that is being violated, the details must be set forth. The steps that you have taken to try to resolve the problem should be listed as well as the responses that you received. If you have emails or other written proof of your claims you may choose to attach that proof to your application.
One thing to consider when you decide to enforce your rights in court is that the other parent may claim that you are also in violation of some provision of the agreement whether it is visitation related or financial. So it is best to make sure that you are up to date with your support obligations to the other parent. While the non-payment of child support is not an acceptable reason to deny parenting time, the issue if raised will make your case less sympathetic to the judge.
If the Judge decides or if either parent requests an attorney for the child may be appointed. You will have an opportunity to meet with the child's attorney and that meeting is very important because first impressions are often the most vividly remembered. Be prepared to discuss the problem, the steps you have taken to resolve it and why the issue is not resolved. Consider that the attorney for the child may want a compromise from both parents. The attorney for the child may suggest a change in schedule whether by day, time or duration.
If the problem is between you and the child, perhaps family counseling may be helpful. The judges view counseling as a positive step to resolution. Of course, not every case needs this component.
In most cases, the filing of a court application and the appointment of an attorney for the child will lead to resolution. There are many possible resolutions including: the court can order a change of custody after a hearing; or, the parent that is interfering may be warned that if there are repeat violations custody may be changed; or, a new schedule may be created; or, counseling may be required with a future report to the court.
If you need legal representation to enforce and protect your parenting rights please call my office to schedule your consultation. The advice that you receive will be most helpful to your situation.