In a perfect world, both parents would follow their child custody order as requested. However, this is not always the case. Whether your co-parent forgets to drop your child off at the appropriate time for a custody exchange or downright refuses to do so, it is helpful to understand which actions you can take to protect your right to your child. A minor infraction occasionally might happen as everyone makes mistakes. However, if your parent refuses to follow a custody or visitation order and violates this order more than once, it is time to enforce it.
File an Enforcement Petition in Family Court
You should consult with an experienced attorney before taking any steps to enforce a child custody order to ensure you know what you are doing and are protecting your interests throughout. When a parent violates a custody order, you can file an enforcement petition in family court. A hearing will take place after this step, so it is important to determine if you want to file this petition. In most cases, parents try to resolve their differences themselves, or with the help of a mediator. However, there are instances where one parent poses a threat to the child or exposes the child to dangerous situations. If this is the case, you should pursue an enforcement petition.
During the hearing, the court will focus on what it considers to be in the best interest of the child. After this hearing, the court will do one or more of the following actions:
- Adjust custody and the parenting plan
- Give the parent additional visitation time to make up for any time lost with their child
- Hold the misbehaving parent in contempt of court
It should be noted that you will need a court-approved custody order to be able to enforce child custody. Without this, the court can only enforce an agreement if you consider your child to be in immediate danger.
Severe Custody Violations
A severe custody violation consists of but is not limited to one of the following:
- Abusive behavior
- Abusing alcohol and/or drugs (especially in front of the child)
- Interfering with visitation time
- Refusing to take the child to medical appointments, school, and extracurricular activities
Such a violation puts your child in immediate harm and should warrant an enforcement action.
Can You Stop Paying Child Support if Your Co-Parent Is Withholding Visitation?
The court will not allow you to stop providing for a child financially because one parent is withholding visitation time. The actions of one parent cannot be used to justify something like this. Instead, you should file a motion to enforce a parenting schedule or a motion to find the other parent in contempt of court.
Holding Your Co-Parent in Contempt
Contempt of court means an individual decided to disobey a court order knowing the ramifications of doing so, which is a crime. A finding of contempt has serious consequences, including but not limited to fines and jail time.
For assistance enforcing a child custody order, contact our office online or call us at (801) 901-7046.