– from Ruth M. in Pewaukee, WI
We have a very vague court order that only states that my ex husband can have our daughter during the Christmas holidays. It doesn’t define the number of days or a set date that his time with our daughter is supposed to end. Every other time we have exchanged custody, it has been for one week. This Christmas, a few days before we were supposed to meet, he emailed me to say he would be keeping her for another week. Can I file for contempt? Is this something I should call the police for even though the child isn’t in danger?
Family Law Attorney Response:
Dealing with these visitations during the holiday season has got to be tough. I'm sorry that you're going through this.
To answer your question, what you are going to have to do is file for a motion to modify the court order for clarification purposes. We wouldn’t advise trying to do this yourself. To ensure that process moves smoothly and you have the best chance to get to your desired outcome, it would be in your best interest to contact a family law attorney that can review your decree. It’s possible that while reviewing it they will find something less vague that you could use to uphold the visitation schedule typical to what you do on most visits.
Also, be proactive on all future visits and try to get written documentation in advance of the exact dates the child will be with your ex husband. Being more proactive in the eyes of the court may help when determining best interest of the child. But the bottom line here is that you should have an attorney with your best interests in mind that can help you with the court order. Best to you and Happy Holidays. “
Jeff Hughes, J.D.