18 Nov What Happens If My Ex Doesn’t Follow the Parenting Plan?
Unfortunately, not every spouse will honor the various child custody and support rulings decided on in court. When your spouse violates part of this court-ordered agreement, it is important that you know your options. In today’s post, we will be focusing on what happens when a former spouse refuses, or simply fails, to honor the shared parenting agreement from your divorce settlement.
First, you should always be prepared before approaching the courts for help in having your spouse uphold an agreement. Whatever decisions are made by the courts, your spouse is legally entitled to be notified of any adjustments to the plan or disciplines that will be levied against them, and an opportunity to rebut your claims.
One of the reasons your spouse must legally be notified by the courts is that they are technically entitled to a full hearing (or at least in any case where the child in question is not in danger while remaining in the other spouse’s custody). This hearing will allow them to understand the claims you are bringing against them and will allow both parties to present evidence, including witness testimony.
In some cases, a spouse refusing to honor a current shared parenting agreement can lead to a parenting plan modification. When this occurs, the courts will get involved with a restructuring of the current plans, where the best interest of the child will be put at the forefront of the restructuring. In general, these modifications can occur in less extreme circumstances, such as when one parent moves away, or when visitation schedules are no longer realistically feasible for one party.
Negotiations with your spouse are possible at this point in the procedure, and if you can bring them to reason an agreement, it is highly recommended. Unfortunately, some parents, particularly those that willingly violate court-ordered parenting agreements, may not be reasonable in this type of scenario. If you do feel that an agreement can be made, however, you should contact a family law attorney in order to resolve the issue in a quick manner.
Before you bring a violation to the attention of the courts, you should be sure that a violation is actually occurring. In general, there are three primary ways a shared parenting agreement can be violated:
1. One Spouse Refuses to Respect Visitation Rights
When a parent deliberately refuses or avoids bringing a child back on time, or refuses to take on the child during the agreed-upon hours, they are in violation of the shared parenting agreement. If your spouse is making it difficult for you to manage a successful transition between the two of you, you should bring up the issue to a judge immediately.
2. A Child is Taken by a Spouse Without Notice
This is a terrifying scenario. In some cases, kidnapping charges can even be brought against spouses who take a child without the explicit and knowing permission of their former spouse. You should contact authorities immediately if you ever suspect or know that your child has been taken by a spouse without your permission.
3. General Grievances
While not as severe as the prior two offenses, issues such as bad-mouthing of another parent, religious violations, and harmful personal habits can be a parenting plan agreement violation. In general, these will become violations if specifications about these issues were made in the original parenting agreement. If, for example, it was agreed that a child would be raised Catholic and that smoking would not be allowed around the child, both spouses would be required to honor this agreement. It is common to include a clause about “bad mouthing” of the other parent in the custody plan.
Once you are confident that the parenting agreement has been violated, contact your family law attorney immediately. A hearing can be set up where you will ask the court for relief that may rectify the situation that you may feel is in the best interest of your child. Navigating this area can be tricky, so it is always recommended that you involve a trusted and knowledgeable family law attorney in these proceedings. Providing hard evidence of violations, as well as testimony from witnesses is also highly recommended.
Not every case will be black and white, so you need to be prepared to have many questions asked about the way you came about the information in regards to the violation, and much more. Overall, the more prepared you are to deal with the violation, the better your chances will be in getting the modification you and your child so desperately need.
Depending on which county in Florida you are seeking to take action in, your local court procedures may vary. Consult your lawyer before making any drastic decisions in order to determine if your current plan of action is right for your situation.