Bergen County Child Custody Enforcement Lawyer
Divorcing or separating parents often invest considerable time and effort into producing a parenting plan that allows the couple’s children to maintain close relationships with both their parents. It can be frustrating if one parent does not adhere to the plan.
Parenting plans are enforceable court orders, and parents must take them seriously. A parent’s noncompliance can deprive children of certainty and structure, which could make the divorce or separation more stressful for them than it should be. Noncompliance with a parenting plan may also happen after the divorce or separation has already been settled with the parenting plan.
If your co-parent violates your parenting plan, consult a child custody attorney right away. Discussions with the co-parent are often the most effective response, but sometimes a case requires judicial intervention. A skilled Bergen County child custody enforcement lawyer can help a parent prepare a case and take the co-parent to court.
Parenting Plans Instill Confidence in Children
Children often have difficulty adjusting to a divorce or separation, and a parenting plan gives them a roadmap. If they know when they will see each parent and for how long, it helps them adapt to their parents’ newly separate lives. If parents adhere to the rules about behavior when they are with their children and support the relationship between the children and the co-parent, it is easier for children to feel they can still depend on their parents.
A parent who violates a parenting plan violates a child’s expectations and need for security. Some people think a significant parenting plan violation occurs when a parent attempts to kidnap a child or commits some similarly extreme infraction. Other violations might not be as dramatic or severe, but over time they could have significant consequences for a child’s well-being. Some common violations include:
- Canceling visits without warning or legitimate excuse
- Not having the children ready at pick-up time
- Changing plans at the last minute
- Using alcohol or drugs while caring for the children
- Threatening a child or co-parent
- Speaking negatively about the co-parent in front of the child
- Encouraging the child to keep secrets from the co-parent
Other behaviors that ignore the parenting schedule, disrespect a co-parent’s rules, or involve the child in hostility between the parents, could violate the parenting plan.
Parents should document their co-parent’s failures to adhere to the plan. If one parent establishes a pattern of poor compliance or makes attempts to interfere with the co-parent’s relationship with the children, it is best to consult a Bergen County child custody enforcement attorney. It is best not to resort to self-help, such as withholding the children from the co-parent because the co-parent previously withheld the children. A reviewing court will not look favorably upon the parent filing the enforcement application if they also violated the parenting plan to retaliate against the co-parent.
Resolve the Issue Outside Court if Possible
There could be various reasons why a parent does not comply with the parenting plan. Initiating a conversation or series of conversations could help resolve the issue with minimal conflict. In many cases, a minor scheduling change or shift in transportation arrangements could alleviate the problem.
In other cases, noncompliance might be a form of acting out bitterness about the divorce or a symptom of a problem like depression or substance abuse. In such situations, it is often helpful for a couple to meet with a mediator to resolve the parenting plan issues and perhaps consult a family therapist or counselor.
A Bergen County child custody enforcement attorney also can help by communicating the problem to the co-parent or the co-parent’s attorney and trying to resolve the issue. In some cases, taking the non-compliant parent to court might be the best solution.
Court Remedies to Ensure Compliance with a Parenting Plan
A parent can seek a judge’s intervention when less drastic methods have not resulted in better compliance with the parenting plan. A judge will hold a hearing where the non-compliant co-parent must explain why they have not been adhering to the plan. If the parent presents a reasonable excuse, a judge might modify the plan to accommodate the non-compliant parent.
However, even if the court accepts the co-parent’s excuse, judges also require that parents adhere to their orders and/or the agreement with their co-parents. A court is likely to impose some penalty on the non-compliant parent. New Jersey Rule of Court 5:3-7(a) allows a judge to require the non-compliant parent to:
- Pay the other parent’s court and attorney’s fees
- Pay for counseling for the other parent and the children
- Engage in community service
- Give the other parent compensatory time with the children
- Pick up or drop off the children in a public place
A Bergen County child custody enforcement attorney can provide skilled representation in a parenting plan enforcement action.
Get in Touch with a Bergen County Child Custody Enforcement Attorney
Parenting plans benefit children. When a parent is non-compliant, the children suffer. The other parent needs to step up and insist that both parents follow the plan.
If you are dealing with a noncompliant co-parent, a Bergen County child custody enforcement lawyer can help. Contact Moskowitz Law Group today to learn more about what we can do for you and your family.