Divorce is a stressful time for everyone. Like most stressful events, divorce has a way of affecting everyone differently. If children are involved, the end of a marriage can be a particularly challenging time. In the period following a divorce, it is common to experience difficulty in complying with a custody order or with how the other parent complies with the order. There are a number of reasons why parents fail to comply with custody orders, including the urge to punish the other parent, disorganization, or failure to work together. While courts understand that some amount of disagreement is common, when serious noncompliance with custody orders occurs, courts sometimes take efforts to penalize the parent who failed to conform with the order.

Directly Interfering with Parenting Time

Cases of direct interference occur if one parent’s actions prevent the other parent from enjoying the parenting time or rights offered by a custody order. It is vital that both parents understand that custody orders are legally enforceable court documents rather than mere suggestions of how parents are supposed to act. If a parent is determined to have violated a custody order, he or she can end up facing serious penalties and might lose the right to visit the child altogether.  Examples of substantial custody violations include ignoring custody arrangements entirely or getting into a serious argument with a parent about a custody order once the order is created. Instead, if a parent disagrees with a custody order, he or she must raise the issue with a court of law.

Indirectly Interfering with a Custody Order

There are other ways to interfere with a custody order besides depriving a parent of the time that he or she spends with the child. Instead, indirect interference can occur and include acts like prohibiting the child from contacting the other parent on the phone or one parent saying negative things about the other parent within hearing distance of the child. These types of behaviors do not just violate custody orders, they place the child in a particularly unhealthy situation that can greatly jeopardize the relationship that the child has with both parents.

A Special Note on When Children are Endangered

If a parent has failed to follow a custody order and you are now worried about a child’s safety, you should immediately express these concerns to either your judge or lawyer. It is often required to provide evidence to fully support your claims, which can involve presenting e-mails, text messages, witnesses, or any other type of evidence. In the most serious cases when a former spouse threatens to harm a child, it is possible to obtain a restraining order, which prohibits the other spouse from contacting the child at all. Even if a protective order is created, spouses are still known to sometimes violate these orders and come into contact with your children. The penalties for violating a protective order, however, are particularly serious.

Speak with a Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney

If your ex violates a custody order, you should not hesitate to speak with a skilled lawyer. At Vayman & Teitelbaum P.C., we have helped numerous families navigate complex issues and we know what it takes to make sure that a custody order is protected.