WHAT IF THE OTHER PARENT VIOLATES YOUR CUSTODY ORDER?
For many parents, the custody agreement they reach in a divorce or receive from a court does not actually reflect the experience of trying to raise a child with another person outside of a couple relationship. Some parents see the custody arrangement as a rough guideline of how to operate, rather than respecting it as a legally binding document.
Over time, one or both parents often drift further and further from the custody plan, creating needless conflict with the other parent, and possibly compromising the quality of care and support for the child caught in the middle of the mess.
In legal terms, this behavior may amount to custody interference and may result in legal consequences. If you believe that your child’s other parent is interfering with your custody order, you may have a number of opportunities to resolve this conflict fairly. An established family law attorney can help you examine your circumstances to determine legal options available and an effective response.
Don’t compromise yourself for an emotional win
When one parent violates custody orders, the other parent often sees this as an invitation to respond in kind, which is rarely legally advisable. For instance, you may face difficulty getting your child’s other parent to cooperate with you when it comes time to share physical custody. In your frustration, you might think that you can simply withhold child support payments or some other form of support to compel the other parent to get in line and play fair.
This is not only illegal, it is unfair to your child. Child support is not the right of a parent, but the right of a child. If you choose to withhold child support to improve your leverage in the matter, a court may hold it against you and reduce your privileges or use other means to compel you pay the support, even if the other parent is acting unfairly.
When you take the high road and refuse to let the other parent’s frustrating behavior dictate your responses, you not only protect your rights as parent before a court, you demonstrate to your children that they are more important to you than your own comfort or preferences. Even if they do not understand this in the moment, over time they will probably see that you make them a priority.
Custody issues are particularly delicate because they affect your closest relationships. The greater emphasis you place on doing your part to provide and love your child, the more options you have to protect them and yourself, and ultimately build a relationship that lasts a lifetime.
Get help fighting for justice
An experienced family law attorney can walk with you through these difficult seasons and help keep your perspective focused and priorities in place. Do not hesitate to reach out to professional legal counsel to protect yourself and the child you love.