When a court signed off on your child’s custody orders, that action was empowered with the force of the law. Practically speaking, this means that if these arrangements are significantly compromised or violated, you have the power to bring an enforcement action against the person who violated them. Because child custody orders are enforceable under the law, they cannot generally be significantly compromised without the express permission of a family court judge. Violating these orders means violating the law itself.
With that said, not all violations of child custody orders are created equal. If your child’s other parent interferes with your custody or visitation rights in a relatively insignificant way, seeking enforcement of those orders in court would likely not benefit you or your child much and could even harm your standing with the court itself. For example, if your child’s other parent has decided that your child has so much homework that he or she cannot join you for the weeknight dinner date you enjoy as a result of your custody and/or visitation orders, you should probably avoid bringing an enforcement action. Family law courts are busy institutions tasked with a truly serious purpose. Judges do not look kindly upon parents who seem to be bringing legal action simply out of frustration with any given child’s other parent. Enforcement actions should generally be reserved for more serious infractions or interferences.
With that said, if your child’s other parent is interfering with your weeknight dinner date (for example) on a regular basis, this pattern of behavior may justify an enforcement action. Family law courts take their orders seriously, so repeated and/or egregious interference with a parent’s custody and/or visitation rights may warrant judicial action.
It is important to understand that every family’s situation is unique. If your child’s other parent is interfering with your custody and/or visitation rights, an experienced attorney will be best suited to advise you in regards to your unique situation. If the situation is not yet serious enough to warrant an enforcement action, an attorney may be able to help you sort out your differences with your child’s other parent out of court. Less formal negotiations, requests to honor existing orders, etc. may provide you with the legal path you need in order to maintain proper access to your child while avoiding a potentially lengthy and expensive court-related action.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you have concerns related to visitation or child custody, please do not hesitate to speak with an experienced family law attorney. Scheduling a consultation does not obligate you to take any legal action whatsoever. However, speaking with an attorney will allow you to make sure that whatever decisions you make related to your child’s visitation or custody are informed.
Interference with visitation or custody is a serious matter. Even if you are not yet in a position to take legal action or do not yet desire to do so, consulting with a lawyer will better help to ensure that your parental rights remain respected if and when you decide to seek enforcement of your child’s custody and/or visitation orders.