A child custody order should be the final word on how divorced parents or other co-parents schedule their time with their kids. Unfortunately, some parties refuse to follow the rules outlined by the court. If your co-parent refuses to follow the child custody order, what are your options? Read on to learn about what to do after child custody violations, and call a seasoned Englewood child custody attorney for help with a New Jersey family law matter.
What is a Custody Violation?
Your child custody order will include a parenting time schedule. The schedule will be as detailed as the parties and the court were able to draft but will include at a minimum where the child will reside at what time. Once the court has issued an order regarding custody, the parties are legally bound to adhere to the custody arrangement. Any alterations to the arrangement must be made with the voluntary acceptance of both parents, or with permission from the court.
If your co-parent violates the schedule ordered by the court, you could have certain legal remedies. Watch out for any custody agreement violations by your co-parent, such as:
- Refusing to adhere to the visitation schedule
- Taking the kids without notice
- Picking the kids up from school when it’s not that parent’s day
- Refusing to allow visitation
- Holding the kids past the established pick-up or drop-off time
- Disrupting your relationship with your kids and trying to alienate your child against you
- Taking the kids out of town or out of state without permission
- Making legal decisions without your permission
- Intentionally concealing your child from you
- Harming the child through choices or behaviors
Document the Violations
If your co-parent is violating the custody order, you might need to go to court to enforce the order. Like any other legal proceeding, the stronger the evidence you can present in support of your argument, the better. Start journaling the incidents when they violate the custody order. Write down what time they drop off the kids vs. when they should have on each occasion, and note days when they fail to show up at all. Write down what was said between you and your ex. Keep copies of texts, emails, and other communications you have about their failure to stick to the custody arrangement.
Remedies for Custody Violations
If your ex is violating the custody order, you have the right to seek enforcement of the custody order through the courts. While it’s best to try to resolve the situation informally first, by reminding them of their obligations, if they continually violate the custody order, you can and should seek proper legal remedies. Call your New Jersey child custody lawyer to walk through your options.
Depending on the circumstances, the court has many options for when one party violates a custody or parenting time order, including:
- Ordering the party to comply with the order
- Ordering additional compensatory time with one parent to make up for missed visits
- Ordering fines, including child care expenses and other compensatory damages
- Issuing modifications to the custody order, such as limiting one parent’s custodial rights and otherwise serving the best interests of the children
- Ordering pick-up and return of kids to occur in a public place
- Finding a party in contempt of court, punishable by community service, monetary penalties, and possible incarceration
Do Not Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
It’s important to follow the proper legal procedures in responding to a custody violation. Some divorced parties try to take matters into their own hands by, for example, keeping the kids past their own allotted time under the custody arrangement or by refusing to pay child support until the other parent sticks to the custody order. Do not put yourself in a position to be violating the court’s orders as well. It will undermine your legal argument and possibly expose you to your own legal penalties. Refusing to pay child support, for example, can lead to wage garnishment and being held in contempt. Talk to your lawyer and go through the proper channels to make sure you are in the strongest position to enforce your custody rights.
That being said, if you are concerned for the safety of your children, you can and should contact the police. If you are concerned that your children are being harmed, or that they are about to be taken out of state or out of the country without your permission, the police can help ensure that your kids are kept safe. Your family lawyer can help you enlist the police as well, especially if they do not take the threat seriously.
Trusted Advice and Representation for New Jersey Child Custody Matters
If you’re facing divorce in New Jersey or dealing with child support, child custody, property division, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (201) 500-2151.