F & F of Ohio Bill Will Address Family Courts’ Failure to Enforce Parenting Time Orders

Research shows that many non-residential parents in Ohio have difficulty exercising their court-ordered parenting time because of interference by the other parent.  We are working with the Ohio Fatherhood Commission and selected legislators on Family Access Motions—a prompt, low-cost, effective solution to this problem.

While there are many effective mechanisms for ensuring compliance with child support orders, parenting time orders often go unenforced for lack of similarly effective enforcement mechanisms. Yet protecting the loving bonds children share with both parents should be our family court system’s first task.

A survey conducted by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services indicates that 87% of child support obligors believe that the issue of  enforcement of visitation rights (a.k.a. “parenting time”) is “very important’ or “extremely important’.

The text of the Family Access legislation F & F of Ohio seeks to enact is below:

3. The court shall mandate compliance with its order by all parties to the action. In the event of noncompliance, the aggrieved person may file a verified motion. If custody, visitation or third-party custody is denied or interfered with by a parent or third party without good cause, the aggrieved person may file a family access motion with the court stating the specific facts which constitute a violation of the judgment of dissolution or legal separation. The state courts administrator shall develop a simple form for pro se motions to the aggrieved person, which shall be provided to the person by the circuit clerk. Clerks, under the supervision of a circuit clerk, shall explain to aggrieved parties the procedures for filing the form. Notice of the fact that clerks will provide such assistance shall be conspicuously posted in clerks’ offices. The location of the office where the family access motion may be filed shall be conspicuously posted in the court building. The performance of duties described in this section shall not constitute the practice of law.  Such form for pro se motions shall not require the assistance of legal counsel to prepare and file. The cost of filing the motion shall be the standard court costs otherwise due for instituting a civil action in the circuit court.

Upon a finding by the court pursuant to a motion for a family access order or a motion that its order for custody, visitation or third-party custody has not been complied with, without good cause, the court shall order a remedy, which may include, but not be limited to:

E.   A compensatory period of visitation, custody or third-party custody at a time convenient for the aggrieved party not less than the period of time denied;
(2) Participation by the violator in counseling to educate the violator about the importance of providing the child with a continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents;
(3) Assessment of a fine of up to five hundred dollars against the violator payable to the aggrieved party;
(4) Requiring the violator to post bond or security to ensure future compliance with the court”s access orders; and
(5) Ordering the violator to pay the cost of counseling to reestablish the parent-child relationship between the aggrieved party and the child.
7. The reasonable expenses incurred as a result of denial or interference with custody or visitation, including attorney”s fees and costs of a proceeding to enforce visitation rights, custody or third-party custody, shall be assessed, if requested and for good cause, against the parent or party who unreasonably denies or interferes with visitation, custody or third-party custody. In addition, the court may utilize any and all powers relating to contempt conferred on it by law or rule of the Ohio supreme court.
8. Final disposition of a motion for a family access order filed pursuant to this section shall take place not more than sixty days after the service of such motion, unless waived by the parties or determined to be in the best interest of the child. Final disposition shall not include appellate review.

Together with you in the love of our children,

Matthew Johnson, M.S. Ed., F & F of Ohio Executive Committee

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