Presumably, you have spent a lot of time and emotional effort setting up a custody arrangement. If your ex chooses not to follow the custody order, it can be infuriating. There are legal actions that you can pursue to set things right again. Below are few options that you can consider.
- Sending a letter through your lawyer to the ex
If your requests and pleas to cooperate with your custody arrangements are ignored and you have to go to the next level to resolve your custody conflicts, you should ask a qualified family lawyer to send a letter. The letter might advise the ex that if they do not resume following the existing order or agreement, they will be worse off than if they simply do what they are supposed to do. If this warning letter does not resolve the situation, it will at least ensure that your ex knows they have violated the existing order and that your are prepared to take additional actions if they do not comply with the order or agreement. Most judges would not look kindly at a party who flagrantly violates an agreement or court order. Occasionally a letter alone works, but more often, other remedies must be tried.
Mediation may work if both of you are willing participants. A mediator is a neutral party who will do whatever he or she can to try to guide both parties to be cooperative in their discussions, with the goal of reaching an accord. If a positive resolution is reached, mediation would save both parties the expense of costly litigation. However, even if the mediator helps the parties settle their differences, it is advisable that you have your own lawyer look over the agreement to make sure that nothing in it has unforeseen negative effects on your child support arrangements for example. Once a settlement is reached through mediation, you or your lawyers should prepare and submit the new agreement to the court for ratification and incorporation into a new Order.
- Filing for Contempt of Court
As a last resort, if the options above aren’t appropriate for your circumstances, then you should file a motion for contempt of court. Essentially, you are compelling your ex to appear before a judge to convince the judge why he or she should not be penalized for their violation(s) of the agreement or order. If they cannot justify to the judge that their violations of the agreement or order were warranted, then the judge could hold them in contempt. If they cannot cure their contempt, that is correct their violations, then they may face serious repercussions, like fines, driver’s license suspensions, or even jail. This process like any matter before the court is frought with pitfalls and would best be navigated with the help of an experienced family lawyer.
Other steps that you can take
Regardless of how you proceed, make sure that you follow suitable protocols. Keep documented records in the event you are called upon to submit evidence to the court. Records include: calendar dates when your ex didn’t show up as scheduled, emails and messages sent to you, late drop-offs and pickups, phone calls, etc. Become familiar with the terms of your custody agreement or custody order so that if there are violations, you will recognize it and document it effectively.
These situations aren’t easy for anyone. Your state or jurisdiction has a process in place to handle cases just like these. A qualified lawyer advise and strategize with you to take the path that is most appropriate.
If you are ready to take the next step and contact a lawyer, then contact one who is experienced with these situations. Contact me for a free no-obligation consultation. I can prepare and guide you through the legal process when your ex will not abide with your custody arrangements.