Visitation interference and enforcement

Determining Parenting Time and Decision-Making for minor children are some of the most challenging issues that a couple will face during the divorce process. Unfortunately, even when these issues are resolved in an agreement, they can  become problematic if one parent does not follow the terms of the parenting plan, which encompasses a parenting time schedule and allocation of decision making for major decisions affecting the children.

What is custodial interference?

A criminal act that can lead to jail time, custodial interference can occur when a custodial parent intentionally interferes with the non-custodial parent’s time. Conversely, it is also applies to the non-custodial parent taking or keeping a child from the custodial parent, thus interfering with the custodial parent’s right to physical custody. It can be applied to circumstances where there is joint custody as long as there is a violation of the court’s order.

Enforcement options

If the interference is ongoing, it is advisable to consult with a family law attorney to weigh options for resolving the matter. A common solution is often to file  a motion to enforce parenting time per the Parenting Plan. This is sometimes followed by a hearing where the court can provide such additional guidelines as:  

  • Add additional rules to reinforce  the initial decision
  • Reconsider the parenting time and change the order
  • Require the non-compliant parent to provide money to the court, which the Court will pay out if there are additional violations
  • Require make-up parenting time
  • Place the non-compliant parent in contempt of court
  • Make any order that promotes the best interests of the child

Mediation is also an option

It is wise to first check with your ex-spouse to discuss the behavior. Perhaps it is an innocent misunderstanding. However, if there is a difference of opinion over the validity of the current parenting plan or the plan is not entirely clear, mediation is an option if both sides are open to this less expensive and less confrontational approach.

Legal guidance is always helpful in resolving these issues equitably

Regardless of whether the underlying issue is due to concerns about a child’s safety, simply a matter of updating a plan that no longer works as your children have aged, or some other issue, speaking to an attorney about your rights as well as legal options is always a good first step. Regardless of whether your case will be resolved at mediation or end up requiring a full hearing to resolve the issues, an attorney can provide effective guidance for protecting your parental rights while also considering the best interests of the child. 

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