Child Custody Enforcement

Florida Child Custody Enforcement Attorney serving West Palm Beach Area

Child custody remains one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce, as parents often use their children as pawns in their conflict with each other. But even after a family court judge awards custody to a parent, the problems may not be over, because in some instances one parent does not comply with the custody order, necessitating legal action known as custody enforcement.

Judges have several options when deciding on the type of enforcement they can order, but in all cases, it is best for any parent seeking this legal action to hire an experienced family law attorney who is well-versed in all aspects of child custody laws and regulations. Violations of child custody orders can result in fines, criminal charges, jail, or even the offending parent losing custody rights or visitation privileges.

Situations That Could Lead to Enforcement Orders

Although every child custody case has its own set of agreements, there are common situations that could lead to a family court having to step in to issue a custody enforcement order, including:

  • One Parent Won’t Allow Visitation – parent who has physical custody of the child refuses to comply with the other parent’s time-sharing/visitation rights.
  • One Parent Won’t Stick To Visitation Schedule – in some instances, one parent may allow the other parent to visit, but only when it is convenient, which is often a violation of the time-sharing/visitation agreement.
  • One Parent Doesn’t Return Child Per Visitation Schedule – A parent with visitation rights fails to comply with the agreement, and does not return the child to the other parent as scheduled.
  • One Parent Takes Child Out of State – the parent with time-sharing takes a child out of state for a vacation or some type of event without consulting the other parent. This is different from a permanent out of state move, which would be covered by the state’s child relocation laws.
  • One Parent Takes Child Out of State – in most instances, when a parent takes a child out of state, without notifying the other parent or without court approval, it is for the purposes of violating the custody agreement. When this occurs, each state is bound under the Uniform Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which gives courts the authority to issue an emergency order demanding the child’s immediate return.

Steps to File A Motion For Custody Enforcement

If a parent believes that another parent has violated the child custody/time-sharing agreement, they can typically take one of two actions:

  • File a Motion of Enforcement – this is a motion filed with family court that asks the other parent to comply with the existing custody agreement. If the parent fails to comply, the court has several options, such as modifying the custody arrangement, which could mean that one parent loses custody/time-sharing of the child.
  • File a Motion for Contempt of Court – this motion asks the court to hold the other parent in contempt of court, which is a charge against someone who is refusing to comply with a judge’s order. Once that motion is filed, the court will order a show-cause hearing at which the other parent can respond to the allegations, rectify the situation, or face consequences for not doing so.

Consequences of Violating Child Custody Arrangement

Although each state has its own set of guidelines when a parent violates a child custody agreement, there are some common consequences of this action, including:

  • Modification of Custody and/or Time-sharing Arrangement – as mentioned earlier, a judge can order a modification of custody if the violation is serious enough to merit this action.
  • Modification of Parenting Plan – a judge can also order that parents modify the parenting plan, granting more or less visitations, and giving one parent more authority to make major decisions for the child.
  • Criminal Charges – a parent who flees out of state with a child can face criminal charges.

An Experienced Advocate in Family Law

If you are involved in a breach of child custody, please contact the family law firm of Eric C. Cheshire, P.A. at 561-655-8844 for a personal legal consultation with Attorney Cheshire. We have the experience and the resources to help you through custody and time-sharing issues, whether you are the parent seeking enforcement or the parent accused of violating the custody/time-sharing order.