Union County Child Custody Enforcement Lawyer
Reaching an agreement about child custody can be the most stressful and contentious aspect of separating for many couples. Ideally, the couple can develop a fair and workable parenting plan that supports both parents’ continuing meaningful relationship with their kids. If they cannot, a court will step in and impose a plan it believes is in the child’s best interests.
Whether you and your ex came up with your own parenting plan or the court developed one for you, honoring it is a legal obligation. If your children’s other parent is not complying with your parenting plan, a Union County child custody enforcement lawyer can help. Our child custody attorneys are standing by to help you protect your rights and your child’s wellbeing.
Parenting Plan Violations Take Many Forms
Refusing to return a child when visiting time is over, or removing the child to another jurisdiction, is an extreme form of noncompliance with a parenting plan. Although it happens, it is an unusual occurrence.
Parenting plan violations typically take subtler forms. Perhaps the children are never ready when a parent comes to pick them up, and the parent must wait for them and lose quality time. Maybe a parent always returns the child late on school nights, making it more difficult for the custodial parent to enforce a bedtime routine and wake the child in the morning. Other behaviors that could be violations of a parenting plan include:
- Scheduling the children’s important activities and appointments during the other parent’s time
- Interfering with the other parent’s phone or email contact with the child
- Engaging in inappropriate behavior while parenting, such as drinking alcohol or using drugs
- Having sexual partners stay over on the same nights the children are in the home
- Speaking disparagingly of the other parent in front of the children
Parents should keep track of any noncompliance with their parenting plan. Although there must be allowances for occasional deviations, if a pattern of noncompliance develops, it is helpful if a parent has documentation. A Union County child custody enforcement attorney can help a parent understand whether the behavior of their coparent might constitute noncompliance with a court order.
Try to Craft a Solution
Couples put their parenting plans together when they are splitting up, and they might not always have a realistic sense of how their lives as single people will work. Sometimes the best response to parenting plan violations is a conversation between the parents to discuss which aspects of the plan are not working and brainstorm a remedy. A calm but frank discussion could identify solutions without turning the courts.
If the parents have trouble communicating, or if attempts to resolve the issue have not been productive, a parent should contact a Union County attorney for help with child custody enforcement strategies. A legal professional can explain the parents’ rights and suggest ways to resolve the issues. If modifying the parenting plan seems necessary, mediation might be helpful.
If good faith attempts to resolve the issues fail, then a parent can ask a court to hold the noncompliant spouse in violation, or even contempt of, the custody order or agreement and impose penalties. If a situation arises that presents a danger to the child or a parent, it may be appropriate to involve law enforcement. If it is not an emergency, it is wise to discuss the issue with an attorney before involving law enforcement. Law enforcement is limited in what they can do. Most law enforcement are hesitant to get involved with civil order or agreements.
Seeking Help from the Courts
A parent may file a motion with the Bergen County Superior Court, Family Part, to enforce the parenting plan and hold the other parent in violation or contempt for violating it. The parent filing the motion must prove that the other parent is willingly failing to comply in a meaningful way that merits court intervention. A Union County attorney with experience in child custody enforcement cases can explain to a parent whether bringing a motion in court is likely to be the most effective action in a specific circumstance.
When a court finds substantial interference, it might impose a new parenting plan that requires different transportation arrangements for the child, compensatory parenting time, and even a change in which one parent maintains primary physical custody. New Jersey Statutes Annotated §2A:34-23.3 allows a court to order:
- Interfering parents to pay the costs associated with their noncompliance
- Noncompliant parents to pay the other parent’s attorney’s fees and court costs
- Parents who have been deprived of parenting time to get compensatory time
- Interfering parents to pay for counseling or other treatment for the children or the other parent
- Noncompliant parents to perform community service
If a parent’s conduct was especially egregious, the child was endangered, or the parent has a history of chronic noncompliance, a court could order a parent’s arrest.
Enforce Your Parenting Plan with a Union County Child Custody Enforcement Attorney
If your co-parent is not respecting your custody or visitation rights, you can take legal action against them. A parenting plan is a court order, and the penalties for noncompliance could be severe.
A Union County child custody enforcement lawyer can offer sound advice based on extensive experience handling custody matters. Contact Moskowitz Law Group today to learn more.