Non Custodial parent refuses to return child

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Latest post 03-16-2009 10:39 AM by SPlum. 10 replies.
  • 03-15-2009 4:34 PM

    Non Custodial parent refuses to return child

     We have been divorced for 9 years. NCP held for contempt on several occassions, sanctioned, ordered to pay legal fees, proceedurally sanctioned. etc.  Father lives in NJ and I live in PA with the children. Our homes are about 40 miles apart. Father has visitation everyother weekend. Normally he picks up in PA and I pick up at 6 on Sunday to end the visitation. Children are boy 9 girl 12.

    Was in court in August and new consent order signed and issued.

    Order states:

       &nbs... "If either child has an activity on Sunday at 2PM or later the father's parenting time shall end at the conclusion of the activity"

    Prior order states "both parents are Ordered to transport the children to their activities that occur during their parenting time"

    That order was not overturned however the X refused to follow it and was held in contempt by the court. Since then the new order did not change that requirement it mearly modified the exchange location and parenting start/end times

    The last three visits he has refused to follow this provision. Because I did not want my daughter to miss the event even though it was his responsibility to get them to the event.

    This weekend I could not do so since my husband had to get to work. I made arrangements to get them from the activity at the conclusion, as the court order states.  He refused to bring them and rather concealed them. Would not answer his phone etc. Daughter missed the activity. Still no calls from the X and no answer on his phone, email etc.

    I called the police who went to his home. He was not there. They called his cell phone and he answered and told them that he does not interpret the order that way. 

    The police said that the children are not in danger and that they can not take the children from him without an order to do so.

    Problem is my husband had to go to work and I now have no way to go get them and the X is not taking any phone calls. I can't arrange my schedule around what ever he feels like and have arranged it around the court order. They told me that if he doesn't return them by tomorrow that I should call them again but said I would still need a warrant for them to be able to take them.

    The kids have school in the morning and I have no way to get them and not sure what the father is planning.

    I can get them later but my husband would have to leave work. He is self employed and has not been getting much work recently so he jumped on this oppertunity and really can't afford to miss out on it.

    To top it off the children have their standardized tests tomorrow at school and really can't miss them.

    They should have been dropped off several hours ago. What recourse do I have and what can I do about getting them back.

  • 03-16-2009 6:55 AM In reply to

    Re: Non Custodial parent refuses to return child

    Not sure what your immediate issue is;  of course you need to pick them up after school- how do you usually pick them up after school during your custodial period?  If you are saying that he may not take them to school, then you would need to file an emergency petition in court ( and of course a petition for contempt- either way).

  • 03-16-2009 7:37 AM In reply to

    Re: Non Custodial parent refuses to return child

    I am the custodial parent and he was to drop them off to me on Sunday at the event on Sunday. He did not show.

    Typically he does not drop them to school.

    I got the police involved last night and he was told that the police were going to escort me to his home to retrieve the children. He fled with the children to a friends home in another city.

    It was not until nearly 11Pm when we were finally able to get the children and they did not get home to PA until just before midnight.

    The court has found him in contempt on this exact issue and has issued 3 seperate rulings regarding it.


  • 03-16-2009 8:28 AM In reply to

    • Drew
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,585

    Re: Non Custodial parent refuses to return child

    For the sake of debate--I'm not sure I read the words the same way---


    If my visitation days are Sat / Sun and you pick some activity on Sun I'm not sure it means I must give up my visitation time to said activity

    Conversly if I pick some activity that begins on Sunday but is not over until the following Tuesday--do I get to keep child until Tuesday?


    Obviously Dad is being abit uncooperative-I agree--



    BTW is this a NJ or a PA order?  The treatment of college is about 180 degrees different!


    PA schools get very nervous and more about missing PSSA testing---and there is an affirmative duty to attend school in PA---so it might have been useful to use this event and paper it  as having injured the child and violated PA law.  If the deal is you pick up children at 6 PMI see no reason for you to run over at 11PM unless by mutual agreement.

  • 03-16-2009 8:54 AM In reply to

    Re: Non Custodial parent refuses to return child

    This is a NJ order but I live in PA and the children reside in PA. NJ retains jurisdiction.

    This is not a new issue with us.

    History is as follows. We lived in NJ. Father refused to let his children attend activities that fell during his parenting time.

    Court ordered that

    "Both parents are Ordered to transport the children to their activities that fall during their parenting time"

    Once we moved (with the court's OK) Move was only 35 miles away.

    The father refused again. As part of another issue it was brought up in Court again. This time the Court states.

    Plaintiff's (me) motion to hold the Defendant (father) in Contempt of Court is GRANTED. There is an Order of the Court from May 4 2007 where the Defendant was Ordered to transport the children to their activities. Since that Order has not been modified it is stil in effect." 

    He was ordered to pay costs and legal fees.

    We then came to a consent motion that did not change those Orders it only changed the drop off time and location from sunday night to after the event.

    20% of that consent Order was dealing with the children's activities as they have always been involved and it was anticipated. The full order regarding activities is like this:

    "The defendant's (father) parenting time shall be Friday at 6PM until sunday at 6PM. The father will pick up the children to begin his visitation and the mother will pick up the children to end the visitation. When there are activities The Plaintiff (me) will notify the defendant within 24 hours via email of the children's extra curricular/school schedule. If an activity begins on Saturday Morning prior to 10 AM the Defendant's parenting time will begin at the conclusion of the event. If an activity ends on Sunday after 2 PM the Defendant's parenting time will end at the conclusion of the activity."

    Again we did not agree to modify the previous Orders of the court regarding transporting to activities, we only agreed to modify the start and end time as well as the location of those pick ups.  This was his suggestion because he wanted to lessen the trips and by making the rule that if the event was on Sunday he could end his time or on Saturday it would start later rather than picking them up on Friday and then having to run back on Sat or Sunday etc.






  • 03-16-2009 9:27 AM In reply to

    • Drew
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,585

    Re: Non Custodial parent refuses to return child

    So if kids are not available for pick up at 6 pm why do you enable Dad by  making an 11PM run to pick them up---why not just let kids stay with Dad and you "paper" the violation.


    What does your attorney say about all dad's foolishness?

  • 03-16-2009 9:34 AM In reply to

    • Drew
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,585

    Re: Non Custodial parent refuses to return child

    While the first offense of truancy in PA is a summary offense  max $300 / 90 days  it jumps in the crimes code to $2500 /1 year for repeat offenders.  So I might get "creative" of Dad doesn't get kids back by time school starts?

  • 03-16-2009 9:56 AM In reply to

    Re: Non Custodial parent refuses to return child

    It seems like this order can be abused by you-not that it is, but could be.  If you schedule "activities" at-will during the weekend and Dad does not agree, you can hold him in contempt. Plus require him to deliver the kids to ad hoc activities during his visitation that may not be in the local vicinity. Does that sound reasonable?

    I can agree to a standing Saturday basketball game or church on Sundays, but a last minute gig at-will is my opinion. What are you going to do if Dad ceases all visitation because of the threat of a contempt order?

    I think the fair thing to do is not schedule your activities during Dad's visitation time. What if the shoe is on the other foot? Would you deliver kid's to scheduled activities Dad makes during the week?

    Standardized tests are not counted towards a GPA. They only measure the school's effectiveness.

  • 03-16-2009 9:58 AM In reply to

    Re: Non Custodial parent refuses to return child

     You asked why I went to get them.

    I did so because I wanted to do what was best for the children. They were upset and calling from their cellular telephone crying saying they wanted to be home. Rather than drive them home he  played a cat and mouse game with me and the police and when he knew we were close he took off to another city with them. At that time of day the ride takes about 35 to 40 mins and he could have easily just brought them home.

    This is being addressed in court again. I can not afford an attorney so I am doing it pro se.

    My issue now becomes do I send them to the next visitation knowing this will just be a repeat of this weekend as he has already "in writing" stated he will not be taking her to her school event on Sat or the game on Sunday.

    He did this the last 3 times he has had them. The first two times I agreed to go get them in the morning prior to the event. This weekend I couldn't. Next weekend I can not either.

    I have always followed every court order and he never does. He has been found to have violated about 8 different orders. He was ordered to not include me on his tax return, he refused and did so any way. He was ordered to obtain life insurance he refused, he was ordered to submit interrogatories, he refused, he was ordered to submit financial discovery, he refused, he was ordered transport them to activities, he refused.

    He was held in contempt but the courts never really do anything. he had to pay a small amount of legal fees and was sanctioned procedurally by being prohibited to sumbit any further affirmative evidence to support his case.

    Now he is just thumbing his nose at this order and really does not care about the kids at all. Everytime the kids have a sport activity he issues a blanket statement for the entire season saying he is busy with work and civil responsibiliites and he will not be able to participate for the entire season. The kids know it is a lie and in fact this weekend what he did rather than take his daughter to her game he went to his friends home and spent the day there and on Sat he went to a friend's neices b-ball game that was an hour drive away but he can't manage to get his own kids to their games. The kids come home every time upset because he is putting total strangers ahead of his own children. Each time I try to encourage them but they are getting to the point that they no longer even want to go. He drops them off and then has nothing to do with them for 10 days until it is his next weekend.

  • 03-16-2009 10:09 AM In reply to

    Re: Non Custodial parent refuses to return child

    These are not Ad Hoc events. It is a field hockey game/ lacrosse games etc. The children are not overly scheduled and they have always been involved in these events. Whether I "could" take advantage is not the issue as he agreed to this in an order to avoid other sanctions. Secondly I do not take advantage of it. These events have been planned well in advance. They are entire seasons and the judge flat out told him last time when he refused that it was in the cihldren's best interests to be involved in their activities and that if the family had remained intact they would.

  • 03-16-2009 10:39 AM In reply to

    • SPlum
    • Top 75 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-11-2008
    • Posts 915

    Re: Non Custodial parent refuses to return child

    You do not need to defend yourself to anyone on these boards regarding what activities your children are in. The bottom line is there is a court order in place saying he has to take them, it doesn't matter how or why it came to that, there is an order that he needs to abide by.

    Second, as I recall the only issue you asked for guidance on was how to get the kids returned.  If you retain counsel, you absolutely need to let them know about this as it cannot go unreported.

    Additionally, it seems this will not stop - he is likely to do this again ...there is usually a petition you can file for emergency return of the children..I would find out about that because it seems you may need to have a knowledege of it.  It does help that your orders are NJ and that is where he is.


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