Sometimes a marriage or relationship ends poorly. Parents must communicate and cooperate when children are involved. But child custody arrangements don't always go according to plan. Custodial interference by a parent is one of the major problems that may arise.
Here you will find tips on what to do if your co-parent doesn't fulfill their obligations. They might violate your parenting agreement or court order regarding custody or visitation rights. This section also includes information on moving during child custody situations and failing to pay child support.
Interference With Custody or Visitation
One of the biggest child custody problems is interference. This occurs when one or both parents intentionally disobey the visitation schedule, fail to exchange the child at the agreed-upon dates, or otherwise fail to live up to the parenting agreement. Sometimes this is done to retaliate against the other parent or to extend (or limit) one's time with the child. But a parenting agreement carries the force of law as a court order. Failure to follow its directions can lead to civil contempt charges.
Either parent can interfere with visitation arrangements or custody orders. But not all interference is considered a violation of the court order. For example, protecting a child from danger is not a violation. Neither is late visitation due to bad road conditions. It's generally okay to honor previous agreements that deviate from the parenting plan (such as a summer trip).
The best practice is to have custody agreements in writing, including text messages. Many parenting plans will include issues like vacations or school breaks. This can help resolve any child custody issues in the future.
Types of Custodial Interference
There are countless examples of custodial interference. Here are some of the more common ways it can occur:
- Refusing to exchange a child with the other parent
- Limiting the child's telephone or online contact with the other parent
- Intentionally failing to return the child at the predetermined time
- Visiting the child during the other parent's scheduled time with the child
Interfering with the custody of the child can come with consequences. For example, you may lose some parental rights with the court. The court may lessen your joint legal custody or joint physical custody of the child. Your parenting time may be reduced.
Child Custody and Relocation
It's sometimes necessary for one or both parents to move out of the area after separating. This often happens for work or more affordable housing. This presents a problem for child custody arrangements. Relocation is okay if the parents have signed a relocation agreement and approved subsequent changes in the parenting plan.
But there may be a dispute over the move. In this case, the court will step in and decide whether relocation is in the best interest of the child.
Under the Fourteenth Amendment, the court cannot restrict an adult's ability to move. However, the court can restrict whether the child can make such a move and modify parenting plans accordingly. The court will consider several factors. This might include the child's preference and the parent's ability to provide for the physical and emotional needs of the child. It may also include the move's impact on the child's relationship with the non-relocating parent.
The original child custody arrangement and parenting plan should stipulate whether relocation is okay. Some states make the moving parent provide the non-moving parent with written notice before an intended move. A parent with sole legal custody can decide on relocation for the child. But if the other parent opposes, the non-custodial parent can file to modify custody or their parenting plan with the court. States have different ways to determine whether relocation is okay in child custody cases.
In-person time spent with parents cannot be replaced. But under certain circumstances, courts offer "virtual visitation" as the next-best thing. A virtual visitation uses video conferencing software (such as Skype) or other methods to give the parent and child a chance to connect. This can include emails and text messages.
Virtual visitation can help children stay connected to a parent who is living far away, traveling, or otherwise unable to meet the child in person. It can be an extremely convenient tool if the child lives in a different state than one of the parents.
Failure To Pay Child Support
Child support is an essential aspect of custody decisions. Child support ensures that both parents contribute financially to a child's upbringing. For this reason, it is an important decision-making aspect of custody arrangements.
Some parents fail to pay their obligated child support. This can have serious consequences. If a parent fails to pay their share of child support, they may face legal action. This can include wage garnishment, seizure of assets, or even jail time. Understanding the importance of child support can help ensure that the child's needs, including medical care and education, are met.
There may be cases of domestic violence or other issues that impact a child's safety. In this case, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent the child's interest in custody proceedings. Additionally, the court may award spousal support to ensure that both parties can support themselves financially after the divorce.
If you are having trouble getting your co-parent to make their child support payments, talk to a family law attorney today.
Get Child Custody Help From a Lawyer
Child custody cases can be difficult to navigate. An experienced family law attorney can help review your claim and applicable laws in your state. They can also help you explore your options. Child custody attorneys can also help you navigate your state's child custody laws. They will help provide you with valuable legal advice and guide you through your custody battle.
Many law offices offer free consultations, so speak to a child custody lawyer today.
Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?
- Both parents can seek custody of their children — with or without an attorney
- An attorney can help get the custody and visitation agreement you want
- An attorney will advocate for your rights as a parent
A lawyer can help protect your rights and your children's best interests. Many attorneys offer free consultations.
Don't Forget About Estate Planning
Once new child custody arrangements are in place, it’s an ideal time to create or change your estate planning forms. Take the time to add new beneficiaries to your will and name a guardian for any minor children. Consider creating a financial power of attorney so your agent can pay bills and provide for your children. A health care directive explains your health care decisions and takes the decision-making burden off your children when they become adults.