Parents who separate or divorce face difficult decisions about what custody arrangement will be best for their children. The parents may agree on a custody schedule, or they may go to court and request that a judge issues a final custody order. Either way, resolving this issue is often costly and time-consuming, and it can be highly concerning if one parent refuses to adhere to the custody arrangement.
If you are a New Jersey parent and your children’s other parent is not following a custody order, there are ways you can secure their compliance. A Montclair child custody enforcement lawyer could inform you of your legal options and assist in resolving any disputes. At the Williams Law Group, LLC, our experienced attorneys understand the importance of maintaining a consistent custody schedule for your children and can help your family through this difficult time.
There are many ways a parent could violate a custody order besides just refusing to pick up or drop off the children. Examples include:
When a parent engages in any of these behaviors, they demonstrate a lack of respect for both the court order and the other parent. A knowledgeable child custody enforcement attorney could identify parental behaviors that constitute breaches and advise a parent of the available legal remedies.
When a parent violates a New Jersey custody order, the other parent may understandably be angry. While their initial reaction may be to take the noncompliant parent to court immediately, it can be beneficial to take certain steps before filing any legal action.
First, the parent may contact the noncompliant parent and voice their concerns. The noncompliant parent could have a reasonable explanation for the violation, and the parties may be able to agree on how to prevent further breaches of the custody order.
The compliant parent should also document all breaches of the agreement, including the date, time, and location of the violations. This information may be helpful to the judge if the parties proceed to court. It is also advisable to avoid putting the children in the middle of the parents’ dispute by discussing the matter in their presence or using them to relay information between the parents.
A parent should also not attempt to get back at the other parent by taking the law into their own hands. A parent who goes to a noncompliant parent’s home to directly confront them or withholds the children from them may jeopardize their credibility with the court and face possible contempt sanctions themselves. It is better to contact a Montclair child custody enforcement lawyer before taking any action against a noncompliant parent.
If a parent attempts to civilly discuss the other parent’s breach of a custody order and the noncompliant parent still refuses to comply, it may be necessary to file a contempt petition. In the petition, the compliant parent states how they believe the other parent has violated the custody order. The parent who files the petition has the burden of proving to the court that the other parent’s actions were “willful and deliberate.”
Under New Jersey Court Rule 5:3-7(a), a judge who finds a parent in contempt may order them to adhere to the custody schedule, pay a fine and possibly the compliant parent’s legal fees, and attend counseling. In extreme cases, the judge has the authority to incarcerate the noncompliant parent and modify custody.
One parent’s refusal to abide by a custody order may hurt both the other parent and the children, particularly if the children’s day-to-day schedule is disrupted. If your children’s other parent is violating a custody agreement and they will not discuss an amicable resolution with you, a Montclair child custody enforcement lawyer could help.
The experienced attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC can work to secure the other parent’s compliance with any custody order and, if necessary, file a petition for contempt on your behalf. Call us today to discuss your situation.