When your child’s other parent will not allow you to exercise physical placement that is court ordered, you should file a Petition to Enforce Placement pursuant to Sec. 767.471, Wis. Stats. The requirements are simple: if you can show that you have had one or more periods of physical placement denied by the other parent, that you have had one or more periods of physical placement substantially interfered with by the other parent OR that you have suffered a financial loss due to the other parent interfering or denying you placement, you have grounds to file a motion or petition.
This petition is very effective because it guarantees you a court date within 30 days from the date you file the petition with the court. At the hearing, if the court finds that you have successfully shown one of the three necessary requirements, the court MUST issue an order granting additional periods of physical placement to replace those denied or interfered with, AND must award you a reasonable amount for legal costs and for attorney fees. The court MAY also issue an order specifying the times for placement (if the prior order was silent on this), find the other parent in contempt of court, grant an injunction ordering the other parent to follow the order that is already in place, or may order the other parent to compensate you for any financial loss you suffered due to placement being denied or interfered with.
Essentially, the court will give whatever sanctions and make whatever orders it deems necessary to enforce the court ordered placement schedule. For the Petition form, click here.
Another option is to file a Motion for Contempt. However, unlike a Petition to Enforce Placement, the court does not have to hear a Motion for Contempt within 30 days, nor does the court have to grant anything at this motion hearing. You may want to file a Motion for Contempt if there are other issues you want to address or if you also want to file a Motion to Modify Placement (see below). That way, all of your issues can be heard at the same time.
Please note: a Petition to Enforce Placement or a Motion for Contempt are not the same as a Motion to Modify Placement. While they are often thought of as similar, they are filed in very different circumstances. A Motion to Modify Placement is filed when you are asking the court to replace a prior placement schedule with a newly proposed schedule based on a substantial change in circumstances. Therefore, if you are looking to restore court awarded placement that has been denied, rather than to have it modified going forward, it is most effective to file a Petition to Enforce Placement. If you are looking to restore AND modify placement in the future, you will want to file both a Motion for Contempt and a Motion to Modify Placement.
If you have any questions regarding enforcement of physical placement, please contact our office at 414-258-1644 to schedule a free initial office consultation or visit our website for more information.