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What happens if one parent doesn’t follow their custody order?

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2023 | Child Custody & Visitation |

Parents may spend weeks or months negotiating, litigate in court or attend mediation to arrive at an arrangement for shared custody. Once a judge reviews and approves a custody order, parents have an obligation to follow that order and cooperate with one another to act in the best interest of their children.

Custody orders usually address a division of parenting time so that both adults have plenty of opportunity to be with their children. Adults usually also share decision-making authority and need to involve one another in major matters, such as elective healthcare decisions or school enrollment. Unfortunately, some parents find themselves in a scenario where their co-parent does not abide by their custody order. What can a frustrated or worried parent do when the other adult in the family won’t uphold the custody order?

A need to keep careful records

People who behave inappropriately often have a hard time recognizing the issues with their behavior. Even when a co-parent confronts them about repeatedly shortening or canceling parenting time, they may deny that they have done so because they don’t see a pattern. When a parent turned away from a custody exchange or frustrated by repeated reductions in their time with the children, they may need to keep a record of each deviation from the order so that they can show how serious the issue has become. If the other parent still won’t change their habits, then it may be time to ask the courts for assistance.

The possible need to seek enforcement in court

A custody order is a court order that a judge has the authority to enforce. When one parent has proof that the other has violated the custody order, they can ask a judge to enforce the order at a hearing. Judges can reprimand parents and order make-up parenting time. If the violations have been ongoing or extensive, the judge might decide to modify the custody order to reflect one parent’s inability to put the best interest of the children first. Other times, they could even punish someone for contempt of court based on their refusal to follow a custody order.

While the idea is for parents to cooperate amicably, sometimes it is necessary to ask the courts for assistance if a co-parent intentionally interferes in someone’s time with their children. Knowing how to enforce a custody order can be as important as understanding the rights and responsibilities one has as a co-parent in Texas.