If you are divorced with minor children, you probably put significant effort into developing a parenting plan with your former spouse. If they refuse to honor that plan, you and your children might suffer.
If your former spouse’s noncompliance is disrupting your routine or creating anxiety in your children, you could ask the court to enforce the custody order in your divorce decree. A seasoned custody attorney at our firm could help you present your case.
A Junction City child custody enforcement lawyer understands how difficult it can be when a parent does not comply with a custody and visitation agreement. During an initial consultation, they could suggest remedies that allow you and your children to move forward after a divorce.
Actions That Could Justify an Enforcement Motion
Judges prefer not to intervene in personal matters between parents unless it is truly necessary. Therefore, trying to negotiate with the co-parent is an important first step. Sometimes, a parent does not realize the harm their noncompliance causes until the other parent spells it out.
When a parent has documentation of a co-parent’s noncompliance, asking a Junction City child custody enforcement attorney to intervene is sometimes effective. A lawyer could contact the co-parent or their legal representative to inform them that continued noncompliance could result in court action. Sometimes this is sufficient to spur better conduct going forward.
If communication between the parents is poor or the interfering parent is unwilling to modify their behavior, a motion to the court might be necessary. A parent should have documentation of repeated or consistent parenting plan violations before bringing a motion to enforce. Situations that could merit bringing a motion include:
- Parent is habitually late picking up or returning a child
- Child is often not ready at the agreed pick-up time
- Child refuses to visit, and the parent does not enforce the visitation order
- Parent repeatedly cancels visits at the last minute
- Third parties are present at visits without the knowledge or consent of the other parent
- Parent engages in risky or illegal behavior in the children’s presence
- Parent exposes the children to domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect
It is important to note that in Kansas a child may not refuse to visit a parent until the child is 18 years of age.
Bringing an Expedited Action for Enforcement
When other efforts are unsuccessful, Kansas Statute §23-3401 provides an expedited procedure to resolve parenting plan disputes. A parent could file a motion seeking enforcement and the court will schedule a hearing before a judge or magistrate within a few weeks. Alternatively, the parents could be ordered to mediation to resolve the dispute. If mediation does not resolve the issue the court will hold a hearing.
At the hearing, the judge or magistrate will listen to both parties’ explanations and issue a decision. The hearing officer could:
- Impose a specific parenting schedule
- Award extra parenting time to the parent who lost parenting time due to interference
- Require the interfering parent to post a cash bond against future non-compliance
- Require the non-compliant parent to pay the other parent’s court costs and mediation fees
- Order the interfering parent into counseling or parent education
- Impose supervised visitation
The process is intended to be simple and inexpensive, though, parents should retain an experienced attorney to file the motion or represent them at the hearing. A child custody enforcement lawyer in Junction City could ensure a parent knows what to expect and offer advice about presenting their case effectively.
Police Involvement is Sometimes Necessary
Law enforcement is usually reluctant to intervene in custody matters except in a true emergency. If a parent reasonably believes the other parent has left the area with the child without permission and will not return or is intoxicated or using drugs while caring for the child, police involvement might be appropriate.
However, a parent should be cautious in turning to law enforcement. A judge could take action against a parent who appears to be involving the police to harass the other parent or interfere with their parenting time. If possible, reach out to a Junction City attorney for advice before calling the police regarding a custody or visitation issue.
Trust Child Custody Order Enforcement Issues to a Junction City Attorney
Your children count on you to provide them with a stable home after a divorce, and a visitation schedule they can count on helps them adapt. If your co-parent is not compliant or cooperative, you should act to protect your children.
A Junction City child custody enforcement lawyer could help you develop a winning strategy to compel your co-parent to follow a parenting plan. Call today to discuss your situation with a dedicated legal professional.