Co-parenting is challenging, even in the most amicable situations. A successful parenting plan requires organization, finite scheduling, creativity, and patience. A difficult situation is only made worse when one parent violates the terms of the custody agreement.
What Types of Actions are Considered Violations of the Custody Agreement?
Parenting plans are instituted so children are afforded time with each parent. When one or both parents refuse to follow court-ordered custody agreements, the children may have to endure difficult parenting time exchanges and become involved in their parents’ conflicts. Common violations of custody agreements include:
- Endangering the child through bad habits or behaviors
- Blocking the other parent from communicating with the child through phone or email
- Consistently scheduling appointments and activities during the other parent’s designated parenting time
- Speaking negatively about the other parent to, or in the presence of, the child
- Intentionally alienating the child from the other parent
- Withholding the child from the other parent
- Making legal, educational, or medical decisions on behalf of the child without consulting the other parent
- Purposely not returning the child to the other parent on time, or not returning them at all
- Refusing to allow the other parent to exercise their parenting time
- Taking the child without notice or agreed-upon modifications to the parenting time schedule
If a judge determines that one parent is willfully violating the court-ordered custody and parenting time plan, the violating parent may be held in contempt of court and sanctions can be imposed.
What Happens if One Parent Violates the Custody and Parenting Time Agreement?
Parents with court-ordered parenting time plans in New Jersey are required to comply. Failing to do so can result in significant penalties, including:
- Compensatory parenting time awarded to the parent who missed their time
- Costs of counseling for the children and/or other parent stemming from the custody violations
- Fines, counsel fees, and reimbursement of court costs incurred by the compliant parent in enforcing the court-ordered parenting time plan
- Modification of the transportation arrangements, which may include a requirement that the exchange of the children for parenting time occur in a public place such as a local police department
Depending on the circumstances, the court may determine that a temporary or permanent change to the parenting time plan will better serve the children’s best interests, which can also include changing which parent has primary custody.
What Should I Do if the Other Parent is Violating the Custody and Parenting Time Agreement?
New Jersey courts take custody arrangements and parenting time plans seriously. If the other parent violates the agreement, there are steps you can take:
- Attempt to discuss the matter with the other parent, voicing your concerns and attempt to agree on a solution
- Attend mediation with the other party and a neutral, third-party mediator to discuss the issues and negotiate an alternative parenting time plan
- Petition the court to enforce or modify the existing agreement
- Consult an attorney with experience in child custody and parenting time rights
- Contact law enforcement in cases of extreme violations
- To strengthen your position on the matter, keep a record documenting the other parent’s violations of the agreement including when and where they occurred, what was said, and any other pertinent details
Somerville Custody Lawyers at Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton, LLC Assist Clients in Cases Where a Parent is Violating a Court-Ordered Custody Agreement
If the other party to your case violates the terms of the custody arrangement or parenting time plan, you may be entitled to file an enforcement application. The experienced New Jersey child custody attorneys at Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton, LLC are available to help ensure that your court-ordered custody arrangements are followed or appropriately modified. Call us at 908-800-7676 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Our office is located in Somerville, New Jersey, and we serve clients throughout Central New Jersey, including Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren, Morris, Mercer, Monmouth, Union, and Middlesex counties.