For most parents, the most difficult part of a divorce or separation is deciding how to divide time with their children and share decision-making responsibilities. Thankfully, in most cases, parents put aside any negative feelings toward their co-parent and agree to a plan that puts the children first.
When a court issues a custody order or incorporates a parenting agreement as part of a divorce decree, it is a court order. Failing to comply with these orders can have serious legal consequences. If parents have a custody agreement that did not receive court approval, their enforcement options are usually more limited.
If your co-parent is not adhering to a custody order or parenting plan, you can take action to force compliance. A Kernersville child custody lawyer can work with you to develop a strategy to help you achieve your goals in a custody dispute. Child custody lawyers with Apple Payne Law are standing by to fight for your rights and pursue the justice you deserve.
There are several ways parents can document their custody and visitation arrangements. The method they choose affects their options if they later seek to enforce the agreement.
A consent order could come about in one of two ways. Divorcing parents could negotiate a custody and visitation plan, formalize it in a written agreement, and submit it to the judge overseeing the divorce. If the parents disagree, either may petition the court for custody and visitation acceptable to them. It is highly advisable to have the assistance of a skilled attorney such as the ones at Apple Payne Law help you draft a comprehensive agreement and then file it as part of your divorce or as a consent custody order.
Once a the judge enters the a consent order, the document becomes a Consent Order with the force of law. If one parent fails to comply, the other parent could return to court asking the judge to enforce a Consent Order.
When parents use a mediator to work out custody and visitation issues, the resulting document is called a parenting agreement. The mediator drafts the agreement, but each parent should have it reviewed by an attorney. The attorneys at Apple Payne Law in Kernersville are knowledgeable about child custody enforcement and can review it to ensure all of your bases are covered. Once approved and signed by both parties, the mediator submits it to the court. If the court approves and signs it, it becomes an enforceable court order, and a parent could ask the court to intervene if the other parent does not comply.
Unmarried parents and parents separating without immediate plans to divorce might use a custody agreement. These are contracts between the parties and are not court-ordered or approved. If one parent violates the agreement, the other parent must file a breach of contract lawsuit to enforce it. If the parties go to custody court, the court can consider the contract/agreement as evidence of what’s best for the child.
When a parent is violates a custody agreement or parenting plan, frank discussion between the parties is usually the best first step. If parents have difficulty communicating with each other, enlisting the aid of a family counselor or mediator could be helpful. When attempts to manage a parent’s non-compliance with a custody arrangement are unsuccessful, a parent could turn to the courts.
North Carolina General Statutes §5-21(a) allows a parent to seek an Order to Show Cause, also called civil contempt. Bringing a motion for an Order to Show Cause requires the other parent to prove that their failure to comply with the custody order was justified. If the offending parent cannot do so, the court might order them to comply in the future and could order them to pay the other parent’s court costs and attorney’s fees. A court could impose a jail sentence until the non-compliant parent agrees to comply.
A judge could find a parent guilty of criminal contempt in some cases, especially if the behavior is defiant or disrespectful to the court. An experienced Kernersville child custody enforcement attorney can advise a parent on their legal options against a non-compliant parent.
When parents split up, it is hard on everyone, especially children. If one parent refuses to keep their promises regarding custody and visitation, children could suffer.
If your co-parent is failing to comply with a custody order, it is crucial to understand that you have legal options. Contact a Kernersville child custody lawyer at Apple Payne Law to learn more.