Post-Decree Enforcement: What to Do When the Other Parent Isn’t Complying with Court Orders
It is an unfortunate truth that sometimes even after a judge has finalized rulings on matters of child support and custody, one or both parents may fail to comply with the court orders. Even though you may be exhausted from obtaining the original orders, you shouldn’t sit back and let the other parent engage in such conduct unchallenged.
- Remain calm.
As hard as it can be to remain civil at a time like this, you should try your best to maintain your composure if the other parent is denying your parenting time. First of all, it is better for your children not to witness you get in an explosive argument with the other parent, even if it is that parent’s fault. When it comes to custody matters, everyone should be acting in the best interests of the children. Secondly, the other parent could argue that your “overreaction” proves that you aren’t fit to be the primary caregiver to your children. Texts, pictures, and videos can all be used as evidence. In Arizona, only one party needs to consent to a phone call being recorded- meaning the other parent can record your phone calls to use as evidence of anger management issues.
- Document any denials of parenting time.
At the very least, you should note the days, times, and circumstances under which the other parent denies your parenting time. Save texts, emails, and voicemails where the other parent states that they won’t be cooperating with court-ordered drop offs. You can also send the other parent an email, text, etc. confirming that the other parent has failed to comply with the court order. This keeps any hearings on the matter from becoming a “he said, she said” affair.
You can also call law enforcement if one parent is refusing your parenting time. Repeated violations of the custody orders could result in that parent being arrested for custodial interference. However, this should be a last resort as having police regularly being involved in your parenting time drop offs could be traumatic for your children.
- Contact a family law attorney.
If you and your spouse reached your original orders without attorney representation, that doesn’t prevent you from hiring a family law attorney to represent you for post-decree enforcement. Even if you don’t want to retain a family law attorney, you should still at least consult with one to confirm that you have legal standing. Some attorneys may charge for consultations, but My AZ Lawyers provides initial consultations free of charge. Your attorney will handle most of the following steps on your behalf, but you will be responsible for them if you proceed unrepresented. Consult with a family law attorney before making the assumption that you can’t afford one- we also offer payment plan options tailored to fit your budget.
- Draft and file a Motion to Enforce Parenting Time.
This motion should be filed in the same court where your original orders were issued. You may also request that the other parent be held in contempt of court for violating the orders. The other parent may be fined or jailed for violating the court orders, be required to pay your legal fees, or even be required to submit a cash bond that can only be returned if that parent complies with court orders. The filing parent may be ordered extra parenting time to make for time lost due to the other parent’s denials.
- Service and hearing.
Either a deputy sheriff or a process server can serve the other parent with notice of the hearing. The hearing will be where any evidence you have kept of parenting time refusals will come into play. You will want to report every possible instance where the other parent refused to let you see your children. The other parent may have counter-allegations about your compliance with the court orders and your abilities as a parent. One or both parents can be ordered to take parenting courses at this hearing. A parenting coordinator may be assigned to the case to help facilitate the parenting plan and reduce the number of hearings.
- If necessary, file to modify your child custody plan.
The judge may award you primary custody of your children if the other parent repeatedly refuses to cooperate with the parenting plan. This will only be granted in drastic circumstances, and when this would be in the children’s best interests. The court may also find it necessary to change the legal decision making for the child.
Contact our Arizona Family Law Team for more information.
Hopefully, you and your children’s other parent can comply with your court-ordered parenting plan without issue. If not, My AZ Lawyers is here to help. If you’re a parent struggling with custodial interference by your children’s other parent, call for your free initial consultation. Our attorneys offer affordable rates and payment plan options- the other parent may even be ordered to pay your legal fees. Your time with your children is precious, so you deserve compassionate, expert representation from a seasoned family law attorney. See the difference our attorneys can provide today.