Dealing with custody issues can be one of the most stressful, difficult, and frustrating aspects of attempting to move on after a separation or divorce. If your child’s other parent is not adhering to the terms of your custody arrangement, this can have negative consequences for your child as well.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA),
“Research shows that parental conflict often takes a profound emotional toll on children caught in the middle, leading to increased school drop-out rates, behavior problems and mental health issues.”
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While this can be a very difficult situation, there are legal remedies available. Taking legal action promptly can be the best way to prevent the issue from persisting – or getting worse. If your child’s other parent is violating your custody order, you have clear legal rights, and an experienced family law attorney will be able to help you protect your rights while also protecting your child.
Violating a Child Custody Order is a Serious Matter
To be clear, violating a child custody order is a very serious matter under California law. A parent who violates a child custody order can be held in contempt, and this can trigger a variety of different consequences. As the California Courts explain, filing an action for contempt “is very complicated and can have serious consequences. Talk to a lawyer to get help with it.”
If your child’s other parent is violating the terms of your custody order by not child back on time, potential legal remedies include:
- Modification or termination of custody or visitation rights
- Community service and/or imprisonment
- Payment of attorneys’ fees and costs
In order to seek enforcement in the California courts, you will need to be able to demonstrate that judicial enforcement measures are necessary. For example, a single isolated incident of your child’s other parent is a few minutes late may not warrant legal action. However, if your child’s other parent is repeatedly late or extremely late, and if efforts to talk to him or she about the issue have been fruitless, then judicial enforcement may be warranted.
Should You Attempt to Work it Out?
It will be in everyone’s (especially your children’s) best interests to try to resolve the matter amicably. Is your former spouse or partner aware that he or she has been late? Is he or she aware of the effects that his or her actions are having on you and your child? Is there a reason why he or she is late (i.e. a change in job schedule), and is this an issue that you can address out of court?
Oftentimes, separated and divorced parents will be able to reach a resolution either informally or by agreeing to modify their custody and visitation schedule. If you file an enforcement action in court, the judge may ask if you have tried to resolve the matter without court involvement as well.
Importantly, while it may make sense to talk to your child’s other parent about the issue, one thing you absolutely should not do is interfere with the other parent’s custody or visitation time. If you do, you too will be in violation of your custody order. If you feel like you need to prevent your child’s other parent from having custody or visitation, you should speak with an attorney promptly.
Contact Law Office of Renkin & Associates in San Diego, CA
If you would like more information about your options for dealing with a non-compliant former spouse or partner, please contact us to request a confidential initial case evaluation. To request an appointment with San Diego family law attorney Richard M. Renkin, call 619-299-7100 or inquire online today.