Sharing parenting time and co-parenting with a former spouse or partner can be challenging at the best of times. These challenges become infinitely more complicated and difficult where your former partner violates a parenting plan which is a court order. Strategies for handling the situation can vary widely depending on the type of violation and your goal.
Whether the violation is intentional is an essential preliminary inquiry. Was your spouse late for drop off because of traffic, or because he or she simply did not want to arrive on time? Violations are inconvenient for the non-violating spouse even if the violation was an accident. However, a simple misstep or unintentional miscalculation is unlikely to raise the eyebrows of any judge.
On the other side of the coin, if a parent repeatedly makes these sorts of “mistakes,” a court will be less likely to believe the violating parent is genuinely making a mistake, and is more likely to believe that the violating parent is purposefully violating the parenting plan. In addition to mistakes, a violation could also be a difference in interpretation. In either of these cases, the best approach is usually calm communication. This will hopefully allow you and your former partner to peacefully resolve the issue without the court’s intervention.
In the event that you cannot resolve the issue peacefully or if your former partner is intentionally violating the parenting plan, it may be time to take the issue to court. The court has various methods to use to enforce a parenting plan. The type that typically comes to mind is contempt. If you can demonstrate that the other parent is willfully disobeying the court’s order, he or she may be found in contempt. Consequences for contempt range from fines to jail time, and the judge has wide latitude to decide the appropriate punishment.
A parent’s repeated and willful violation of a court order can also be used in an effort to change the parenting plan. A parent’s willingness to abide by a court order is a factor for the court to consider when ruling on what is in the child’s best interest. Where a parent has repeatedly demonstrated that he or she has no regard for a parenting plan, the result could very well end up being a change of custody if it is requested by the non-violating parent.
Dealing with your child’s other parent when he or she is unwilling to follow a court order is challenging and a delicate matter. You need an experienced team to help you navigate these situations. If you have a complicated situation with your former spouse or partner, call us today at (253) 272-9459. We can discuss your child and your future.