Enforcing Child Custody and Parenting Time Orders
Sometimes enforcing child custody and parenting time orders is necessary. In New Jersey, parents with court-ordered parenting plans have a legal duty to comply with those plans. Noncompliance with parenting orders can include more than simply failing to deliver a child to the other parent or failing to make a child available at mandated times. More subtle behaviors, such as blocking telephone or email contact, or consistently scheduling a child’s appointments and activities during the other parent’s scheduled time, can in some cases interfere significantly with custody or visitation. Even talking negatively about the other parent in a child’s presence could potentially alienate the child from the other parent, thereby amounting to inappropriate interference.
Co-parenting across two households typically requires a greater degree of organization, creativity and patience than co-parenting within a single two-parent household. A good parenting plan that includes a detailed description of how parents will divide time, not only during regular school and work weeks, but also during vacation periods or on special occasions, can go a long way toward making co-parenting workable.
If you are having difficulty working successfully with your children’s other parent and believe that parent is not complying with the terms of a parenting order or is interfering with your parental rights, the following information can help you understand your options under New Jersey family law.
Non-Compliance with Custody & Parenting Orders
If problems arise with visitation and parenting time plans, it usually is not the best idea to run to court immediately, though that may be your first inclination. In most cases, a better approach is to work on improving communication with the other parent and agreeing on adjustments to your plan if that seems appropriate. Mediation is often a good option for parents who need assistance resolving problems or disagreements under their parenting plans.
Legal Remedies for Non-Compliance:
In some cases, a cooperative approach will simply not be effective. If the other parent is consistently or drastically violating the terms of your parenting orders, you have the right to seek legal enforcement through the NJ courts. You can file a motion to enforce litigant’s rights in family court asking the court to enforce the parenting orders and impose penalties on the party failing to comply, including, if appropriate, monetary sanctions. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4(a) you also have the right to file an incident report or a criminal complaint for interference. A clear parenting plan set out in your custody orders will be very helpful if you find it necessary to enlist the assistance of your local police.
A family court judge who finds that a child is not spending court-ordered time with one parent due to behavior of the other is likely to impose penalties on the interfering parent, and may also consider whether the child’s best interests would be served by changing the current parenting arrangement, including potentially changing the designation of who will serve as the primary residential parent.
New Jersey family law judges have authority to hold a parent violating custody or parenting orders in contempt of court, in addition to ordering whatever additional remedies are justified under the particular circumstances. In an appropriate case, a court might order temporary or permanent changes in the parenting plan, including some or all of the following:
- compensatory parenting time for the parent who has lost time,
- changes in transportation arrangements for visitation,
- changes in the children’s pick-up location, or
- a change in the primary residential parent.
A court can also impose additional penalties, including ordering the interfering parent to:
- pay the other parent’s attorney’s fees and court costs,
- attend parenting classes or counseling,
- pay for counseling for the children or for the other parent,
- pay any costs resulting from non-compliance with court orders,
- participate in community service, or
- comply with a warrant for arrest.
(See N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.3 and New Jersey Court Rules 1:10 and 5:3-7(a)).
Interference with parenting orders can be very serious. A New Jersey family law attorney can help you decide whether or not a court proceeding is appropriate in your particular situation. For a confidential consultation, please contact us. Take the first step. Call us today: 888-888-0919.