Child Custody Orders: What To Do When They Aren't Followed

One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is dealing with the child custody agreement and the pursuant visitation schedule, child transfer, and other details. This entire process can be made even more difficult when you factor in one parent not following the court's child custody order. When one parent disregards the custody order in any manner, it can make the entire process more challenging and frustrating for the other parent. If you're struggling to maintain a child custody order with your child's other parent, here's a look at some of the things that you need to know.

What Counts As Violating The Custody Order?

Before you can address any kind of custody order issues, you need to understand what types of things are actually viewed as violations of the order. Recognizing what the courts consider a violation can help you to determine if the situation is simply an annoyance or if it needs to be addressed.

For example, if your ex is picking the kids up or dropping them off earlier or later than what is defined in the custody agreement, this can be considered a violation. In most cases, if the difference in time is minimal, such as 15 minutes early or late, most courts won't address it unless it becomes habitual. However, if your ex is picking the kids up hours early or late or is dropping them off hours early or late, these things are definite causes for concern.

Any time your ex keeps the children for longer than they are permitted, this is a violation in the eyes of the court. Failing to return the children to you on the day that they are supposed to is a serious problem, and needs to be addressed right away.

Even subtle things like scheduling an activity with the child on a day that you are supposed to have custody so that the event interferes with your time with the child can be considered a violation of the custody agreement.

When Should You Take A Custody Violation To Court?

If one parent is violating the custody order, you might wonder if you should be going back to court to address it. The truth is that, in some cases, you may not need to go to court. In fact, before you file a petition with the court, you should try to resolve the problem directly with the other parent.

Communicate your concerns to the other parent in a documented manner. Whether this is through email or a certified letter, make sure that you have clear proof that you've expressed your concerns and asked for the situation to be corrected.

If this doesn't resolve the problem, you should reach out to your child custody attorney. They can issue a formal letter to the other parent in advance of pursuing a custody hearing in court. 

If the letter from your attorney doesn't solve the problem, you'll want to discuss the potential for filing a claim in court for custodial interference or contempt of court.

What Do You Need If You Go To Court?

If you have to file a petition with the court for custodial interference due to your ex's refusal to follow the child custody order, you'll want to be sure that your evidence is clear and comprehensive. Take the time before filing to keep a log of the issues that you're experiencing. 

Whenever possible, get communication in writing from your ex that clearly shows their refusal to cooperate, mark down the times when the children weren't returned on time, and consider video documentation where you can. The more evidence and information you can provide to support your case, the better chances your child custody attorney will have to help you resolve the problem.

Talk with a child custody attorney today for more help and information.