Monmouth County Child Custody Enforcement Lawyer
Managing a co-parenting relationship can be challenging, especially if your child’s other parent is not following established custody and visitation orders or agreements. While small delays for pick-up or drop-off may happen occasionally, repeated violations of custody agreements, especially by not showing up at all, can create unwanted chaos and stress in not only your life, but your child’s as well.
When your child’s other parent is not cooperating, you may need to request an enforcement order from the family court. An experienced child custody attorney can help with this process. A Monmouth County child custody enforcement lawyer from Moskowitz Law Group can advocate for you and your child to resolve violations and regain stability.
New Jersey Child Custody Enforcement
Once a child custody order has been issued by the court, it is legally binding. The same goes for a voluntary agreement that the parties have submitted to the court. While co-parents can agree to certain adjustments, such as trading weekends because of an unavoidable scheduling conflict, one parent cannot unilaterally alter the terms of the order or refuse to follow its instructions.
Substantial child custody and parenting time violations may include:
- Habitual lateness when picking up or dropping off the child
- Denying visitation to a non-custodial parent
- Refusing to return a child to the custodial parent
- Interfering with visitation by chronically setting plans or appointments for the child during the other parent’s custodial time
- Making major decisions for the child without mutual consent that violate joint legal custody agreements
- Repeatedly missing regularly scheduled visitation, especially when done without prior notice
Parents are encouraged to try and address custody order violations between themselves. When that is not possible, the parent whose time is being disrupted will need to file an application for enforcement of a child custody order under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-82 and/or Court Rule 5:3-7(a).
After the application is filed, the parents will have a hearing before a judge. Because this is a legal proceeding, parents in Monmouth County should consider working with a custody enforcement lawyer to present the strongest case and avoid procedural errors.
Penalties for Violating Custody Orders
Ignoring an official custody agreement is a violation of a court order and can also be an act of contempt of court.
Civil Penalties for Custody Violations
During a child custody enforcement hearing, the judge may impose civil penalties on the offending party. This could include adjusting the custody order and providing the non-offending parent with additional custodial time and parental rights.
A person found to have violated custody orders may be sanctioned by the Court with monetary sanctions and will likely be required to pay for the non-violating parent’s attorney’s fees.
Criminal Penalties for Custody Violations
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4, it is a crime to conceal or detain a child in violation of a custody order, which is called criminal interference with custody. In most cases, interference with custody is punishable by three to five years in prison. If a parent takes a child out of the country or holds them unlawfully for 24 hours or more, the parent could be charged with a crime of the second degree, which is punishable by five to 10 years imprisonment.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9, it is also a crime to intentionally or knowingly violate a court order, which is called contempt of court. Penalties for contempt of court include fines under N.J.S.A. 2A:10-5 or up to 18 months incarceration per N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.
A parent who intends to permanently keep the child in violation of a custody agreement could face kidnapping charges under N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1. This is a crime of the first degree and could lead to incarceration for 15 to 30 years.
All this said, criminal prosecutions for violating custody orders are very rare and require a particularly egregious violation or pattern of violations. In the vast majority of cases, the court will use civil penalties to enforce custody orders.
Because of the various channels for enforcement of custody orders, it is imperative that a parent seeking the court’s enforcement of custody orders goes through the proper legal channels to do so. Additionally, violating the custody order to retaliate against the other parent’s offenses can open both parties up to contempt of court or custody interference charges. A family law attorney can also help a parent in Monmouth County abide by the proper laws for custody enforcement without making themselves vulnerable to criminal penalties.
Work With a Monmouth County Child Custody Enforcement Attorney
As a parent, you want your child to have support and stability. When your co-parent refuses to follow custody orders, it can be in your child’s best interest to file for custody enforcement. A Monmouth County child custody enforcement lawyer can help you navigate this process so you can improve the outcome of your case and get the results your child needs. Call Moskowitz Law Group to discuss your situation with a member of our team.