When one parent refuses to follow the rules of custody
Anyone who has ever watched a television drama knows that custody battles can get ugly. Unfortunately, reaching a custody agreement is frequently just the beginning of the fight. As children get older and lives change, parents can potentially find themselves embroiled in custody battles again and again.
Message boards and law information sites are clogged with parents seeking help and advice on enforcing a custody order. Common problems include one parent consistently running late when dropping off or picking up children, frequently needing to change visitation dates or even refusing to let children Skype or talk on the phone with the other parent.
The first step in resolving these types of custodial disputes is, if feasible, discussing the problem with the other parent. It may turn out that the parent is always running late because of traffic, or because a music lesson always runs over. The solution, therefore, may be something as simple as agreeing to change the pickup and drop off time.
It’s critical at this stage not to involve your children. While it’s tempting to ask your child to “please tell your father that if he can’t bring you home on time I’m going to petition the court for sole custody,” or to comment “tell your mother that it won’t kill her to learn be a little flexible,” dragging children into what is, in reality, a problem between the adults only makes things worse.
If the adults cannot come to an amicable agreement on their own, it’s time to call in the professionals. A qualified family law attorney can help parents draft a solid, workable parenting agreement and avoid the expense and emotional cost of relying on the courts to modify and enforce a custody agreement.