Determining parenting time and custody of minor-aged children are often some of the most contentious issue a couple faces when they divorce. Unfortunately, sometimes one party is unwilling or unable to honor the parenting plan agreement, which includes parenting time schedule as well as legal decision-making input on how to raise the children. If this is the case, the courts can once again get involved, which may lead to serious problems for the non-complying parent.
This criminal act can lead to time in jail. Custodial interference refers to the custodial parent (who the children live with for a majority of the time) interfering with the visitation time of the non-custodial parent. It can also apply to the non-custodial parent not giving the children back to the custodial parent at the agreed upon time. Even if the parents have joint custody, there can be parental interference if a parent violates the court-ordered parenting plan.
Options for enforcement
A parent should call the police if they feel that their children are in immediate danger, but normally is best to check with your family law attorney and weigh options on how to proceed if the interference is blatant and ongoing. A common first step is to file a motion to enforce the visitation rules outlined in the parenting plan. This is sometimes followed by a hearing where the judge imposes additional guidelines. These may include:
- Reinforce the initial agreement by adding more rules
- Require make up of time missed by one parent
- Have the negligent parent provide a sum of money that is then paid to the other parent if the violations continue
- Hold non-compliant parent in contempt of court
The judge may also make changes to the parenting plan during the hearing that they deem are in the best interests of the children. Violating a parenting plan is not the best way request a change, quite the opposite is more likely.
Attorneys can provide knowledgeable guidance
An attorney can protect the parental and individual rights of their client in court. Instead of court, they can also try to work with the other side to modify the plan, which may not be working because of changes in the child and family’s needs. Either way, a knowledgeable family law attorney is a tremendous asset in resolving parenting plan issues like enforcement and interference.