When a family law judge issues a final decree articulating orders with respect to child custody, which often includes a parenting time schedule, that decree will be enforced under the law. However, not every parent will follow the decree to the letter. In some cases, one parent might refuse to comply at all.
Altering or enforcing the terms of a child custody agreement with the help of a seasoned family attorney is possible. There are numerous remedies available depending on the circumstances, but court approval is necessary. A Connecticut child custody enforcement lawyer can help make the approval process simpler.
A parent could violate the custody terms of a final divorce decree or custody agreement in a variety of ways. When these violations occur, a Connecticut attorney could help with the enforcement of a child custody agreement or pursue a contempt action against the parent who has violated the order.
Commonly, enforcement efforts might be necessary when a parent fails to adhere to a custody schedule. Many parents work out a schedule to determine where children will live during weekdays, weekends, and school holidays. Disobeying these requirements can result in an enforcement action.
Interference in the relationship between a child and the other parent can also occur, and efforts to interfere to the detriment of the other parent can result in a motion for contempt depending on the language of the parenting plan.
Other issues arise when one parent oversteps their legal rights when making a decision for the child, as custody agreements set out a range of guidelines that cover everything from medical care to religious beliefs. Making these decisions unilaterally without the power to do so might be considered a violation of the custody agreement.
A motion for contempt is the primary tool for enforcing child custody agreements and asks the court to hold one parent in contempt for their refusal to abide by the terms of the custody order. The consequences of a contempt finding can vary significantly. The court can order financial sanctions against the offending party, modify the custody orders to reduce their parenting time or remove joint legal custody, and in the most extreme cases, the court has the ability to jail a parent for up to six months.
Whether the other parent is in contempt can be a subjective question. However, an experienced child custody enforcement attorney in Connecticut can provide helpful insight into what type of evidence a judge might expect in order to make a finding of contempt.
Seeking contempt begins with filing a motion with the court, which the court then sets down for a hearing, and the motion and notice of hearing are then served on the other parent. Service must be effectuated by a marshal, and in-hand service for motions for contempt is preferable to mere abode service. Proof of service must be submitted in order for the court to proceed with the scheduled hearing. If the family law judge finds the offending parent in contempt, they can apply any penalty allowed under the law.
If you are struggling with a co-parent who refuses to comply with a custody agreement, you have legal options. The filing of a motion for contempt can sometimes pressure the other parent to comply even without the need for a full contested hearing.
Whether it is through litigation or simply negotiating with the other parent’s attorney, resolving custody disputes might be possible. Talk to a Connecticut child custody enforcement lawyer to learn more about your legal options.