The family access motion is a process to enforce an existing order for “access” (visitation/parenting time) with a child that has a specific schedule of time with the child. An administrative order for child support does not address custody or visitation/parenting time provisions that qualify for an existing order. A person may file a family access motion if the court order is denied or interfered with without good cause. The motion must state the specific facts that establish a violation of specific access (visitation/parenting time) periods set forth in the court order. An order for “reasonable” visitation or parenting time may not be specific enough for the court to enforce it. Most lawyers will file a Motion for Family Access for a modest fee. You may also ask a lawyer to help you with part of the process, such as drafting the Motion, reviewing the Motion after it is completed or appearing in court with you at a hearing. Court rules allow a lawyer to help a party with certain specific tasks without handling the entire case for a party. This is called Limited Scope Representation. A lawyer providing limited representation will usually charge a fixed fee or charge by the hour.
How to file a Motion for Family Access
A motion for family access must be filed in the court that has continuing jurisdiction over custody and access of the child. This is usually the court that entered the order the motion is addressing.
The Family Access form is available for download or at the court clerk’s office where you can get more information about the filing procedures if necessary. A filing fee is charged for filing the motion. If you cannot afford the court filing fee, you may file an application asking that the fees be waived. This is sometimes called In Forma Pauperis (in the manner of a poor person). There is also a fee for serving notice on other persons entitled to notice of the motion. This fee cannot be waived.
What happens after a Motion is filed?
Other persons entitled to notice must be served with a copy of the motion for family access. Persons who are served may file a response. The court clerk can provide forms and explain the filing procedures. You also can download a copy of the Response to a Motion for Family Access. Some circuits refer these matters to dispute resolution before an appearance in court.
The parties involved in the case will have an opportunity to present evidence, including calling witnesses. Witness may be subpoenaed to testify. A request must be made for the court clerk to issue subpoenas. State law authorizes a judge to order the following remedies when a person denies or interferes with a court order for access to a child:
- Order compensatory (make-up time) visitation not less than the time denied.
- Order the violator to obtain counseling or pay counseling between child and the person who filed the motion for family access.
- Require the violator to post security (bond) for future compliance with the order.
- Assess a fine of up to $500.
- Grant attorney fees and court costs.
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