Child custody arrangements are often the most contentious factor in divorce, so it is especially distressing when your ex-spouse does not follow these arrangements once the divorce agreement is finalized. This is when you need the services of Orlando Family Team’s highly skilled, compassionate child custody enforcement attorneys.
Orlando Family Team will provide you with powerful legal representation. And, because we are a husband and wife team, we will offer you a unique perspective on family dynamics when applying the law.
It is important to remember that violations of child custody orders are sometimes more than a matter of frustration or inconvenience for one of the parents. In some instances, these violations involve the endangerment of a child. This is why Orlando Family Team lawyers take child custody enforcement cases very seriously.
Enforcing Child Custody and Visitation
If you have a court-ordered parenting agreement and the other parent is not abiding by it, you should not wait too long to seek legal assistance. Though there is certainly a chance that you may be able to negotiate with your ex-spouse, if she or he is making a habit of violating the agreement, you are going to require the leverage our attorneys can supply. Depending on the urgency of the situation, we will assist you in bringing matters to the police or before a judge.
Can a child custody agreement be enforced if it is not yet court ordered?
Police or the courts cannot enforce a custody agreement that has not been finalized in a divorce decree unless your child is in immediate danger. If that is the case, you should be prepared to call the local police or, if necessary, the child abduction unit at the county district attorney’s office even before you consult with us.
As long as your child is safe, our child custody attorneys will help you negotiate with the other parent’s lawyer so that we can turn your agreement into an enforceable court order as quickly as possible. This will give us considerably more clout when it comes to compelling compliance.
Will the police actually intervene in child custody enforcement?
Law enforcement officers are generally reluctant to get involved in family (even divorcing or divorced family) squabbles. The exception to this, as mentioned, is if there is evidence of criminal action, such as child abuse, domestic violence, or kidnapping.
Even so, it may be helpful to call the police if, for example, the child’s other parent is hours late in bringing your child home from a time-sharing visit. Although the police may say you have to work this situation out in court, having the police report on the record will help us make your case in court.
Serious Custody Violations
Any parent can have to reschedule a single parenting time appointment or get caught in traffic bringing a child back from a visit. On the other hand, patterns of default or interference with time-sharing visits are not only irritating or even infuriating; they are detrimental to the child’s sense of security. The following are examples of serious child custody violations:
- Frequently failing to show up for visitation exchanges
- Continually showing up late or early for visits
- Interrupting the other parent’s time with the child with calls, texts, or unexpected appearances
- Failing to take the child to necessary agreed upon places — e.g. school, the doctor, court-ordered counseling sessions — according to schedule
- Abusing alcohol or drugs in front of the child or in a way that interferes with the ability to care for the child
- Engaging in inappropriate or criminal activity in the child’s presence
While some child custody misconduct is obviously much worse than others, any of the above can be harmful to the child and will be recognized as such by the court.
How Orlando Family Team Recommends You Behave as Our Case Proceeds
You have a part to play in how our negotiations with opposing attorneys will go. In order to put our best foot forward in the courtroom, it is important that you:
Make sure not to violate any aspects of the custody agreement
Resist the temptation to take revenge by not meeting your end of child custody obligations. Misconduct on your part will only muddy the waters when it comes time for the court to decide which parent is at fault.
Keep careful records of your ex-spouse’s custody order violations
Include dates, times, and full descriptions of troubling events, phone calls, emails, texts, and police reports to show a pattern of child custody violations
Having sufficient documentation will give us the ability to show a clear pattern of violation when our child custody attorneys advocate for you in court. This evidence, coupled with our well-prepared presentation, will help persuade the judge of the validity of your claims.
How the Judge Can Remedy the Situation if There Is No Criminality
As long as the other parent’s violations don’t rise to the level of criminal behavior, we will seek one or more of the following legal remedies, depending on the particular circumstances:
- Enforcement of the existing parenting plan as it relates to child custody
- Modification of the parenting plan, including possible alteration of which parent has physical or legal custody
- Court-ordered extra parenting days to make up for any lost time with your child as a result of your ex’s misconduct
- A court order that the other parent pay your court costs and attorneys’ fees to enforce custody arrangements
- A request that the judge hold the other parent in contempt of court
The last action listed is a significant one since it asks the judge not only to enforce or change your custody order but to find your ex-spouse guilty of a crime (i.e. disobeying a court order). The latter can have serious consequences, possibly including serving time in jail.
As your child custody attorneys, we will discuss our goals and strategy with you before taking any action. Except in extreme cases, we most likely will not recommend working toward holding your ex in contempt of court since that is likely to have two problematic results:  fanning the flames of conflict and acrimony and  adding to your child’s distress. That being said, there are situations in which drastic times call for drastic measures.
When It’s Time to Pull Out All the Stops in a Child Custody Enforcement Case
If you think your child’s other parent may try to kidnap your child, especially if that parent has international ties, we will explain the precautionary actions the U.S. Department of State recommends, such as keeping a record of your ex’s identifying information and photographs of the child and parent available.
Contact Our Experienced Child Custody Enforcement Attorneys Today
The sooner you get in touch with us, the sooner we can analyze your situation from both a legal and practical perspective and provide you with the reassurance of viable options. Like you, we will always make your child’s safety and well-being our top priority.