Most parents who live separately from their co-parent spend considerable time and energy hammering out a workable custody agreement. Therefore, it is understandably frustrating when one parent does not abide by the agreed arrangements.
Your children do not deserve to suffer because of your co-parent’s behavior. If your co-parent willfully violates your custody agreement, it is important to know that you have legal options to force their compliance or punish them for non-compliance. Consider speaking with a knowledgeable family attorney from our firm to discuss how to proceed in your unique circumstances. A Ballwin child custody enforcement lawyer could help ensure your children are safe, protected, and have a consistent visitation schedule they can rely on. Contact Jones Family Law group today to get started.
Thoroughly Document All Violations
There are bound to be some hiccups when you and your co-parent begin implementing your parenting plan and custody agreement. Some of its provisions might not be workable in practice, and a bit of flexibility during the adjustment period is appropriate.
Even so, it is wise to write down every instance of when things did not go as planned. You should note each canceled visit, late pick-up or drop-off, or concerning behavior (such as failing to adhere to rules you set about conduct and conversations with the children). Your notes may reveal patterns in your co-parent’s behavior, particularly in their tendency to violate your parenting plan. Your notes could also highlight aspects of your parenting plan that require modification.
It is vital to contact our Ballwin child custody attorneys if your co-parent is not adhering to your parenting plan. Speaking with the co-parent or their attorney is often enough to enforce compliance, but in some cases, you may need to bring a motion in court to force your co-parent to follow the plan.
Seeking Enforcement Through the Courts
A parenting plan or custody agreement is a court order, and compliance is mandatory. Courts will impose penalties when people violate their orders without good reason.
However, immediately turning to the courts for relief instead of working with the co-parent to resolve a matter for the sake of the children is not always an effective solution. A Ballwin child custody attorney could advise you whether your situation merits court intervention or if negotiation is a more effective enforcement strategy. Mediation before seeking court intervention can also be a useful strategy.
Family Access Motions
Missouri Revised Statutes §452.400 allows anyone seeking child custody enforcement to bring a motion for a family access order. The motion must detail the violations of the existing order and state the action you want the court to take. Many courts order parents to mediation before they hear a request for family access and some courts mandate mediation before a hearing.
If alternative dispute resolution does not settle the matter, the court will hold a hearing where both parties can argue their case. A skilled attorney serving Ballwin can present evidence, witnesses, and cross-examine your co-parent’s witnesses. If the judge finds a violation occurred, the court could:
- Order make-up time with the children at least equal to the time you lost due to your co-parent’s noncompliance
- Order the co-parent to get counseling and pay for counseling for you and your children, if necessary
- Impose a fine of up to $500
- Order your co-parent to pay your court costs and attorney’s fees
- Order your co-parent to get a bond which they will forfeit if they violate the custody agreement again
Order to Find a Parent in Contempt of Court
When a co-parent’s violations are extreme, repetitive, or cause documentable harm to the children, you could bring a motion to hold your co-parent in contempt of court. An order for contempt is a severe remedy, and you must prove a violation or pattern of violations to get a contempt order.
If the court finds your co-parent in contempt, the judge could assess fines, order the non-compliant parent to pay your attorney’s fees, or the Judge can even impose jail time for certain violations. However, because the law presumes that continuing contact with both parents is in the children’s best interests, courts are unlikely to prevent a non-compliant parent from visiting their children.
Contact Our Firm to Speak With a Ballwin Child Custody Enforcement Attorney
There are harsh consequences when a parent does not respect a court-ordered custody agreement or parenting plan. Failure to adhere to the schedule is disruptive for you and harms your children, who need structure as they adjust to their parents living apart.
A Ballwin child custody enforcement lawyer is here to help when your co-parent does not adhere to the custody arrangement. Call Jones Family Law Group, LLC, today to discuss your options with a seasoned attorney.