Enforcing a Child Custody Agreement

Enforcing a Child Custody Agreement

Child Custody Enforcement Attorneys in Bergen County, NJ

Understanding Child Custody Agreement Violations

When you and your former partner agree on the various issues that need to be decided during a divorce or dissolution of a domestic partnership such as division of assets, child custody, child support, and spousal support, it is with the unspoken understanding that you will both adhere to the terms you worked so hard to establish.

When it comes to your child custody agreement, it is particularly important that both you and your co-parent uphold the terms of your agreement, for the continued health and development of your children. When one party or the other fails to uphold the terms of your child custody agreement, there are still several things a former spouse can do to encourage his or her co-parent to abide by the terms of their child custody agreement.

At The Law Office of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience helping parents to enforce their child custody agreement, and even modify that agreement when it is clear that the other parent cannot abide by its terms. Contact our office today to discuss your unique situation, needs, concerns, and options moving regarding the enforcement of your child custody agreement in a free and confidential consultation.

What Is a Child Custody Agreement Violation?

There are several different actions a court may consider a violation of a child custody agreement, and as such, would warrant court intervention when it comes to enforcing or modifying a child custody agreement.

These child custody agreement violations can be:

  • Refusing to Comply with the Visitation schedule – If one parent regularly drops off/picks up the children later than agreed, or is scheduling activities with the children when they are not scheduled to have parenting time, this parent is violating the terms of your child custody agreement, and these violations can be actionable by the courts.
  • Taking the Children without Permission – If one parent takes the children when they are not supposed to have them, especially in the case that they do not alert the other parent that they are doing so, this can be a very serious violation of your child custody agreement. In extreme cases, such a violation may even necessitate police and/or FBI involvement.
  • Badmouthing a Parent to the Children – If one parent is actively attempting to sabotage their children’s relationship with the other parent, either by saying negative things about them, or outright lying, the courts will frown very heavily upon such actions, and may modify the existing child custody agreement in order to limit the children to this harmful behavior.
  • Making Legal Decisions without Legal Custody – Part of your child custody agreement will be the determination of which parent(s) have the legal authority to make decisions for their children regarding education, health, and religion, known as “legal custody”. If a parent without legal custody makes these decisions, (for example enrolling the children in a confirmation program in their church,) then this will be considered a violation of the child custody agreement.
  • Harmful Personal Habits and Decisions – The paramount determining factor in any legal matter involving children is what the court determines to be their best interest. If a parent’s habits or decisions are harming a child, for example smoking around the children, drug or alcohol abuse, or incidents of domestic violence, the court will most likely seek to limit the amount of time that parent spends with the children through a child custody modification.

If your co-parent is violating your child custody agreement, you have a variety of options available to enforce the terms of your child custody agreement. In some circumstances, you may even modify your child custody agreement altogether.

In matters such as child custody enforcement and modification, retaining the counsel of an experienced child custody lawyer can be extremely beneficial, as your attorney will guide you through the entire process, advise you of your options, and help you decide which may be the best in your unique situation.

Enforcing a Child Custody Agreement

If your co-parent is violating the terms of your child custody agreement in any of the ways listed above, there are several steps you can take towards ensuring that your custody agreement is enforced, and in some cases, you may even modify your child custody agreement to more accurately reflect the current circumstances of your family.

  1. Speak with Your Co-Parent Directly – Many times, a child custody violation can be resolved simply by discussing the matter with your co-parent. It is possible that they are unaware of the violations, or how they are affecting your own life and stability. It can also be possible that your co-parent’s work schedule has changed in such a way that necessitates finding a new schedule that works for both of you. Try to be reasonable and understanding of your co-parent’s busy life and various responsibilities, and see if there is a way for you to resolve the issue without legal intervention.
  2. Contact Our Child Custody Enforcement Attorneys – If your spouse proves intractable when it comes to finding a reasonable solution to your concerns, or agrees to a solution but then continues to violate your agreed-upon terms, having experienced legal representation on your side can be of enormous benefit. Our attorneys will usually first attempt to resolve the matter by sending a written warning to your spouse, alerting them to the fact that if they do not comply with the terms of your child custody agreement, they will face legal action. Many times such a warning can resolve the issue then and there. If not, then our attorneys will be able to guide you through the process of seeking court intervention when it comes to enforcing your child custody agreement, or even modifying it should the situation call for it.
  3. Keep a Written Record – Having a written record of every incident wherein your co-parent violated your child custody agreement, how exactly they violated it, and what was said between the parties regarding that violation can be of enormous benefit should you need to go to court to resolve your child custody enforcement issue.
  4. Modify Your Child Custody Agreement – In situations where one parent’s schedule has changed, or their behavior is harming the children, then one potential option for resolution of this issue can be to file for a child custody modification, and change the terms of your child custody agreement to more accurately reflect the current circumstances.
  5. File a Motion for Contempt – In cases where one co-parent regularly violates the agreed-upon visitation schedule, this parent can be held “in contempt” by the courts. Courts consider anyone “in contempt” who is not abiding by a child custody agreement, and penalties range from monetary fines for first-time offenses, to revocation of a driver’s license or a professional license, to arrest and mandatory jail time, in the case of repeat offenses.
  6. Call the Police – While this should generally be your last option, as calling the police on a co-parent can very negatively impact your working relationship with that co-parent moving forward and potentially damage your relationship with your children, it is still an option. Especially in the case that your co-parent is several hours late to an expected drop-off of your children, and you cannot contact your children or your co-parent, calling the police can be a prudent measure. Additionally, if you have any reason to believe your co-parent has taken your children across state-lines without your permission or the authority to do so, such an action can be considered a criminal violation, and call for FBI involvement as well. If you call 911 regarding a child custody violation, be sure to have a certified copy of your child custody order on hand.

As you can see, there are several options available, should your co-parent violate your child custody agreement. By working with our Bergen County child custody attorneys in situations where you cannot resolve the issue privately with your co-parent, you will have a much clearer understanding of the options available to you, as well as the ramifications, requirements, and process for each. Most importantly, you will feel confident in your ability to choose the best course of action moving forward.

Contact Our Hackensack Child Custody Enforcement Lawyers Today

At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our family law attorneys have extensive experience helping parents to create, modify, and enforce child custody agreements. By practicing exclusively family and divorce law, our firm can focus on providing you with the knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate legal counsel that you need and deserve in any matter involving you and your family. We believe that by listening closely to each of our clients’ unique needs and concerns and keeping them highly informed and involved throughout the legal process, we can better work to achieve the resolution which best meets those exact needs and concerns. To speak with our attorney team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your child custody agreement, modifying your child custody agreement, or your options for enforcing your child custody agreement, contact our firm.

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