When couples split up, some of the most contentious issues involve their children. Although many parents try to make custody and visitation agreements work, sometimes they just cannot get on the same page. The best child custody lawyers know that when dealing with someone who refuses to follow a parenting plan or child custody order, it’s important to put your children’s best interests at the forefront. Taking these steps can help protect your rights and reinforce the terms of your custody order.
Whether your co-parent frequently brings your child home late or you’re dealing with a more serious matter like being denied access to your kids, proper documentation is crucial. Keep a calendar of scheduled parenting time, school events, appointments, and other items. Writing down what may seem like insignificant details can help make your case to modify or enforce a custody agreement. Be sure to keep a record of:
- Failing to pick-up or return the children on time
- Cancelations and missed parenting time
- Failing to inform you about important events or issues
- Badmouthing you to or in front of your children
- Drug and alcohol use
- Disputes about education or health care
It’s also a good idea to save screenshots of evidence such as social media posts, texts, DMs, emails, and other communications related to your children and parenting plan. Good child support lawyers also advise documenting missed child support payments and other financial matters such as job and income changes.
Address Issues Outside of Court
Communication is key when it comes to creating a successful parenting plan. Sometimes a parent’s behavior is unintentional, so it’s best to talk with your co-parent before taking any legal action. If this avenue has been unsuccessful, contact your attorney and ask him/her to write a letter that outlines why you believe your ex is not following your agreed-upon parenting plan.
In some cases, formal mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods may be necessary to sort- out custody issues. A formal court hearing can end up being quite costly and time consuming. Settling child custody disputes outside of the courtroom can be much more expedient and less expensive. Any agreement you reach can then be authorized and ordered by the court. If you don’t have a lawyer, find an affordable divorce attorney to assist you with mediation to ensure that your rights are protected.
File a Motion for Contempt
If all else fails, your attorney can file a motion for contempt with family court. That way, your co-parent will be forced to address the issue and explain to a judge why he/she is violating your existing custody agreement. Providing a well-documented proof of a pattern of behavior can also help the judge get a better understanding of exactly what is going on.
If you need help with enforcing a parenting plan, our child custody lawyers in Chester County, PA can help. It is also a good idea to consult a family estate planning attorney after any major life event such as divorce, marriage, or the birth of a child.