Enforcement Of Child Custody Agreements
When parents separate, they typically develop a written agreement regarding where the children will live most of the time, how and when they will spend time with the noncustodial parent, and who has decision-making authority. These agreements are called conservatorship agreements or conservatorship orders.
Conservatorship agreements provide the couple’s children with structure, security, and routine at a time that could be chaotic. Adhering closely to these orders is critical for a child’s well-being.
If your co-parent is intentionally defying a conservatorship order or is being haphazard about adhering to it, you owe it to your children to address the issue. An experienced child custody attorney could help you petition the court to hold your co-parent accountable. Consult with a Pearland child custody enforcement lawyer at Angela Faye Brown & Associates to explore your legal options.
Building A Case Proving Noncompliance
Once a judge issues a conservatorship order, both parents must adhere to it. It is critical for each parent to track how the conservatorship agreement is working for them.
Whenever there are incidents of concern or non-compliance with the order, parents should document them. Over time, the notes could highlight an issue the parents might need to address through modification of the original order, especially if the children are having trouble coping with some aspect of the arrangements.
On the other hand, it might become clear that one parent cannot or chooses not to comply with one or more aspects of the conservatorship order. In that case, a parent could use their notes to substantiate the need to bring legal action forcing the other parent to comply. A skilled Pearland custody enforcement attorney could use the information in a parent’s notes to support a motion seeking compliance with the conservatorship order.
Process For Seeking Court-Ordered Compliance
A parent could bring a motion asking a judge to enforce the conservatorship order. These motions are appropriate when a parent believes that the other parent’s non-compliance with the conservatorship order is disruptive or harmful to the child or impedes their ability to co-parent effectively. Texas Family Code §157.002 (c) requires a parent petitioning for enforcement of a conservatorship order to provide details regarding the other party’s non-compliance.
A dedicated child custody enforcement lawyer in Pearland could advise a parent on the contents of the petition. Depending on the specific conservatorship agreement, information that could support a petition for enforcement might include:
- Dates, places and times when a parent failed to pick up or return a child as scheduled
- Dates when a parent failed to make a child available for a scheduled visit without sufficient cause
- Dates when a parent canceled a visit without excuse or adequate prior notice
- Incidents of a third party being present at a visit without the other parent’s knowledge or permission
Examples of a parent behaving in a way that is contrary to the children’s best interests could also support a motion to enforce the conservatorship, such as:
- Physical or verbal violence
- Disparaging the other parent
- Suggesting children lie to the other parent
- Making unrealistic promises to the children
- Tying visitation to child support payments
Any of the above or other similar conduct could be evidence of parental noncompliance with a conservatorship agreement.
Legal Consequences For Failing To Comply With A Custody Order
When a parent files a petition seeking enforcement of a conservatorship agreement, their attorney will specify the relief the petitioner seeks. If a judge agrees that a parent failed to abide by a conservatorship order without a legitimate excuse, they could take several steps, depending on the situation and the relief the petitioner requested.
The judge may grant the motion to enforce the agreement and impose penalties if the previously noncompliant parent violates the order again. A judge often orders the non adhering parent to pay the petitioning parent’s legal fees and court costs.
The judge could also impose penalties based on the parent’s previous failures to adhere to the order, including fines. In the most egregious cases, a judge could hold the offending parent in contempt of court and order them to serve a jail sentence.
Work With A Pearland Attorney To Enforce A Conservatorship Agreement
When you and your children cannot rely on your co-parent to abide by the custody and visitation agreement you reached, it harms everyone. Being patient and hoping things will improve is the wrong strategy. You must immediately demand your co-parent uphold their end of the agreement.
Initiating a confrontation with your co-parent might be intimidating, but a Pearland child custody enforcement lawyer could offer sound advice and support. Schedule a consultation with one of the loyal attorneys at Angela Faye Brown & Associates today at 713-714-3710 in Houston or at 512-572-1207 in Austin.