What you need to learn about filing a motion for family access (visitation)
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 Order
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 Order (FA10)
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 Motion for Family Access Order form is available for download from the motion for family access (visitation) forms page 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). This form is available for download from the motion for family access (visitation) forms page
or you also may ask the court clerk for the application form. You will
have to provide the court with detailed financial information under oath
so the judge can decide if you are eligible for a waiver. There is also a fee for serving
notice on other persons entitled to notice of the motion. This fee cannot be
What happens after a Motion is filed?
Other persons entitled to notice must be served with a
copy of the Motion for Family Access Order. 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 Motion for Family Access Order (FA35). 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
- Assess a fine of up to $500.
- Grant attorney fees and court costs.