What to do when the custodial parent blocks communication with the kids is a common question from long distance parents.
“My ex continues to make excuses as to why she does not answer her phone, which is my only contact with my kids. She is in one state and I am in another. My question is…is there anyway to make my ex legally responsible to answer her phone when I call? “
Is there anyway to make my ex legally responsible to answer her phone when I call?
Although a judge might never tell your co-parent they have to answer the phone, a judge will probably enforce reasonable requests to talk to your kids. The challenge is making the case so that the judge can see what’s happening. Although it might be clear to you it’s happening, no doubt, your co-parent has a different story.
In some in person child exchanges, this might be an option. However, with phone communication, the police will likely refer you to the courts. The police really have no way of making the co-parent cooperate. Instead, that is more likely the domain of court orders and being held in contempt, when the court orders are not followed.
Build your Case
The first thing to do is to begin documenting every single contact or attempted contact with your child. This can be a simple spreadsheet (google sheets is free). Every time you call your kids, record the date, time, and method (phone, video etc). Also, for each, record the outcome. Did you talk to your kids, and if so, how long? Did the custodial parent block communication with your kids? If so, what happened or what was the reason?
Back this up by getting copies of your phone records. Your cell phone bill may include a record of every call that was made. If it does not, contact your cell phone company and they can provide that to you. Go through your bill and identify each line item that corresponds with a line item on your record. You can highlight them or number them with corresponding numbers. Foxit PDF offers a free version of their software that allows highlighting and typing if you prefer to do it electronically.
How much you need is hard to say. Gather evidence until someone unfamiliar with your situation would agree that there is a pattern of denying contact. This is definitely more than a few phone calls.
File a Motion in Court
Once you have your evidence, you file a motion in court in the state that has jurisdiction over the custody case. Every state has different ways to go about this so visit or call or look up the website for that state or district family court system to find out how to do it. Once you’ve filed, you will get a hearing date that you both have to be present for.
If you don’t have an attorney, you will either have to travel there for the hearing – or some court rooms allow you to call in. Check with that court system to find out. The court clerk can typically give you general information. Your other option is to hire an attorney in that court district who can do it for you. If you have an attorney, they can go to court for you and you often don’t have to travel there for the hearing.
At your hearing, the judge will listen to both sides and make a decision. The judge is making this decision purely (hopefully) on the evidence and arguments presented. Even if you are completely in the right, if you can’t make your case, you won’t necessarily win. What the judge says goes so convincing the judge is key. Once the decision is made, if mom doesn’t follow it, you can go back to court and complain and action can be taken against her. But, even in that follow up, you will still need to have evidence and a case. So, if your co-parent is blocking phone calls with your kids, make sure that from this day forward, you document everything, even once you have a judgment.
I’m not an attorney and this is not legal advice. I don’t know the whole story, only what’s been presented. This is from my own limited experience only.