Custody orders approved by the New Jersey family courts and parenting plans drafted by separated parents dictate how co-parents split parenting time and other obligations concerning their children. If your family is subject to such an order, you and your children’s other parent should follow that plan when scheduling custody exchanges and generally managing your children’s lives.
Unfortunately, not everyone handles the transition to co-parenting as gracefully as one might hope. People sometimes – consciously or subconsciously – try to use their children as a way to punish or manipulate their co-parent. For example, you may have recently gotten multiple phone calls at the last minute to cancel your parenting time or shown up for an exchange only to realize that your co-parent and kids hadn’t shown up. If so, you may be wondering what can you do when you have a custody order giving you access to your children but your co-parent isn’t honoring the terms of that agreement.
You may need to request enforcement from the courts
New Jersey family courts have the authority to enforce custody orders. As with any other court order, a custody order binds someone to follow through with a court’s instructions. Those who fail to do so could find themselves facing incarceration and fines due to contempt of court.
New Jersey also allows enforcement actions that prioritize other solutions. A judge could order makeup parenting time or they could modify your parenting plan so that you can see your children more frequently and have more control over their daily lives.
How do you prepare for enforcement actions?
As someone who is not getting to spend as much time with your children as you are entitled to, the burden of proof will be on you to show the court that the other parent has not followed the custody order. Typically, to claim that they are violating the order, you will have to continue to arrive for custody exchanges even knowing that they will not release the children to you.
You’ll want to document such behavior to show a pattern of refusal. Written records and even their messages to you telling you they won’t let you see the children can help you convince the court that they have not followed the parenting plan and have affected your relationship with your children as a result.
Knowing and asserting your parental rights in a shared custody situation will help you protect what is most important to you. Seeking legal guidance and support will help to better ensure that you receive a favorable outcome when you voice your arguments in court.