Everyone knows that there’s nothing easy about family separations. Divorce is difficult on its own, but when children are involved, it can become much more painful. Suddenly, you have boundaries where they didn’t exist before. Schedules are different, communication can be inconsistent, and it can be difficult to understand what you can and cannot lawfully do as a parent with shared custody. When a parent violates the child custody order, it can bring on more confusion and conflict. That’s why it’s so important to understand every detail of a child custody order and follow it appropriately. Below we discuss the purpose of custody orders, what constitutes a violation, and what to do if a violation occurs.

 

Purpose of a Child Custody Order

 

When a couple goes through a divorce and parents separate, they need a structured plan for visitation and communication with the children. In some cases, a divorcing couple can come to an agreement on these details. Typically through mediation, they can create their own shared calendar and set their own terms on child custody. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. When tensions are high and a couple can’t agree on the terms of custody, the courts will have to decide for them. This is a very unnatural feeling for most parents who are used to seeing their children every day.

The purpose of a child custody order is to make sure that both parents understand who the child should be with on any given day. Since it’s enforced by law, the schedule is protected and everyone involved is responsible for following the order. When a parent violates the child custody order, it’s considered breaking the law.

 

Determining Who Gets Custody

 

Traditionally, the courts were more likely to give physical custody to the mother. This is due to historical and conventional ideas of mothers being more influential on development. However, modern courts don’t automatically assume these roles anymore. There are a lot of variables that go into determining who gets custody of a child, but overall, the common mantra is always in the best interest of the child. Some of the elements that judges will consider before making custody arrangements are:

 

  • What the child wants
  • The age of the child
  • The relationship between the child and both parents
  • The parent’s ability to take care of the child and provide
  • The child’s relationship to their school and community
  • The willingness of the parent

 

If a parent is upset about the terms of the child custody arrangement, they’re more likely to violate them. When a parent violates the child custody order, it can lead to much bigger problems for the family as a whole.

 

What Is Considered a Violation?

 

Basically, anything that falls outside of the details in your child custody order can result in a violation. Many times, these are simple accidents. If a parent picks up a child from school on the wrong day, that could be a violation. Normally, these situations can easily be resolved with your ex-spouse and the family attorney. In other circumstances, the violations can be much more severe. For instance, if one parent refuses to give the child back to the other parent, or if one parent takes the child out of state, the consequences can be much more severe. It’s important to understand all of the terms of the order and always consult with your attorney if changes need to be made.

When a Parent Violates the Child Custody Order

 

There are a number of different consequences that a parent can face for violating a child custody order. This can vary by state, but overall parents have to understand that a child custody order is enforceable by law and it can be very serious if these orders are violated. If a parent violates the child custody order, here are some of the possible results:

 

  • the violating parent is immediately at risk of losing the rights that have already been set in place by the courts.
  • The violating parent could do jail time, since he or she could be considered in contempt of court.
  • Violating parent could have to appear in court to explain why the violation happened.
  • The non-violating parent has the rights to call law enforcement and/or petition the court for enforcement of the order.

 

If you or your ex-spouse has violated the child custody order, it’s important to contact a family law attorney as soon as possible. Experts in family law understand how difficult this time is for you and your family. They can offer support and guidance to get you and your family back on track. Before more conflicts arise from violations of child custody orders, contact your family law attorney to help you settle any disputes.

 

By: Tina Lewert

Attorney Tina L. Lewert is an experienced Florida Board Certified Marital and Family Law Specialist who works with clients to resolve family law issues including child custody, visitation, and parenting issues, and child support, alimony, and marital agreements. Ms. Lewert earned her undergraduate degree at Florida Atlantic University and her J.D. from the Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center in Fort Lauderdale.