Reply To: Should I file for Contempt?

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Just like the executive (presidential) branch is separated from Justice and legislative branches for a reason, the courts are separate from the police for a reason. To ask a patrolman who may have very little education to read and interpret and then enforce a court order is a very bad idea indeed. First of all, how do you know your ex wouldn’t pull a court order from a year ago and say its the most current order? Or show up with LA code on his computer and say the judge wouldn’t have gone against the law, therefore the officer needs to x, y, or z?

You told ‘UnitedWoman’ that the only thing that mattered is that the child knew Mom and Dad loved them, unless it was dangerous to the child. In my interpretation, it is dangerous to the child if the child is often sick because the parent is not taking good care of them, or if the parent hasn’t even made arrangements to be able to pick them up at day care. As a child gets older, some children will say “but dad/mom didn’t love me, if they couldn’t be bothered with something as important as daycare papers” (and believe me, there will be nine million other things with a parent like this). Other kids will buy into the poison that dad is spouting out about mom and insist that MOM doesn’t love them. As the parent of children who were brainwashed — and there is no other word for it — for years, with a very bad outcome indeed — there’s a lot we SHOULDN’T be ‘letting go’.

Which brings us right back to your question, about the police enforcing civil orders. I hope I was able to explain why the police can’t really do it. (And more importantly, probably shouldn’t be doing it). I coach people in custody situations and it is very common indeed for one particular type of parent to try to get what they want by manipulating the police when the judge didn’t give them what they want. It takes a load of courage for a parent to step up to the armed officers at the door demanding they turn a child over for visitation when it’s an old order that the other parent has somehow convinced them to enforce. No parent should find themself having to do this, in the absence of an brand, shiny new direct order from the judge. It is also not fair to officers who are already overstressed to have to listen to the tales of woe from some of these manipulative parents, become convinced the child is kidnapped or in mortal danger, and find out later that the child is right where the judge wanted them to be and they’ve been led up a deceptive path.

So as inconvenient as it is, these things have to be handled through the courts, until we change the system. When my daughter was in Alaska (a state that is very backward in some ways but very progressive in others), the courts there have police stationed in the courts for the specific purpose of enforcing orders. The judge makes an order (in my daughter’s case, for the father to turn her infant over to her), the person is given a few hours to comply voluntarily, and if they do not, the storm troopers pay a home visit. They travel in twos, unless the judge and the officers confer and think there will be trouble. In cases like that, more are deployed. Every single day there is a duty judge who can hear an enforcement plea and turn loose the dogs (so to speak). It’s intimidating as hell but it’s also very effective. The head officer at the courthouse interfaces with the judge and his/her clerk to ensure that children get to see both parents, as ordered. It’s something we need to consider in the lower 48 imho.

(Having said that, the other side of this argument is that if handled improperly it could be very intimidating to kids, so there are two sides to the argument). When something like 50/50 is the norm (in the absence of abuse or neglect), these kinds of actions become less necessary.