A child custody agreement is a formal court order that details divorced parents’ rights and responsibilities to their children. Custody agreements also outline how much time a child will spend with each parent after divorce and provide guidelines for transportation, transition days, and management of the child’s schedule. Parents need to follow their child custody agreements to the letter. Otherwise, they risk not only damaging their relationships with their children but also legal penalties. If your coparent has violated your child custody agreement in any way, call our firm. It’s vital to consult a Tulsa, OK divorce attorney as soon as possible to determine the best available remedy to the situation.
Before you consult an attorney, be certain that your current situation qualifies as a legitimate custody agreement violation. For example, if your transition days are Saturdays and your ex is supposed to drop off the kids at 5 pm, it is unrealistic to claim a custody agreement violation has occurred if they show up at 6 pm because of traffic. However, if they develop a pattern of neglecting pickup and drop-off times, this could constitute a custody agreement violation.
Consult an Attorney Immediately
Some custody violations may amount to additional stress, while others can be terrifying. For example, if your ex has custody of your children and tells you they are taking them away, or they take them out of the state without notifying you or following the terms of your custody agreement, it’s vital to find help as soon as possible. Your attorney can coordinate with law enforcement to help you locate your children in this situation, which would constitute a very clear custody agreement violation.
Some custody agreement violations will not be so overt, and it can be difficult to decide how to approach some of these situations if you are unsure of how to handle your ex’s behavior. Your attorney may advise you to contact the police and/or the local district attorney to seek enforcement of your child support order.
Keep Detailed Records
In most cases involving child custody violations that lead to legal action, these incidents manifest from patterns of repeated order violations. If your coparent has repeatedly failed to follow the terms of your child support order, it is essential to document these incidents to the best of your ability. If you have any reason to worry that your ex may attempt to kidnap your children, make sure you take current photos of your kids every few months; these may prove essential if you need to provide law enforcement with their descriptions to help them locate your missing kids.
It is also wise to keep a record of your coparents personal information, including updated photos as well. You may need to provide these to the authorities to help them find your ex and return your kids. If you are aware of your ex’s extended family members, try to keep a record of their phone numbers and addresses if you think your ex might try and take your kids to their houses.
Filing a Charge of Contempt
Your attorney can help you gather the evidence necessary for proving your ex violated your child custody agreement and file an action for contempt with the court. This compels the courts of Tulsa, OK to enforce your child support order and hold your ex accountable for any problems they have caused due to their violation. If the court determines your ex has willfully disobeyed a child custody order, it is quite likely that they will lose some or all of their parental rights as a consequence.
Adjusting a Child Custody Agreement
It’s not uncommon for divorced parents to believe their child custody orders are one-sided or unreasonable. Unfortunately, some respond to these beliefs by intentionally violating their child custody agreements. It is always possible to revisit your child custody agreement in court to formally request a change or revision if your circumstances change, so it is never wise to outright violate your child custody order. The post-judgment motion filing process is a bit involved, but ultimately it provides you with a legal means of challenging an unfair child custody arrangement or making necessary adjustments.
What to Do About International Kidnapping
Countless American citizens are originally from other countries or have extended family members in other countries. Some child custody order violations include kidnapping a child and taking them out of the country. This can be incredibly scary for a parent, and it’s vital to have reliable legal guidance during this kind of situation.
Your attorney may need to coordinate with the local District Attorney’s Office as well as the US Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues to determine the best possible response. If the other parent took your kids to a country that has signed the Hague Convention, the Hague can potentially intervene and help return your children to you if necessary.
Aftermath of a Child Custody Violation
Some child custody violations are borne from resentments between divorced parents. A child custody violation can be incredibly traumatic for children caught in the midst of their parents’ negative feelings for one another. If a parent has intentionally violated a child custody agreement, the resulting penalties hinge on a few things. A few of these include the severity of the violation, the parent’s history of past custody order violations, and any ill effects their violation had on the children involved.
Willful custody order violations can not only lead to the parent in violation of losing parental rights but also criminal penalties for kidnapping and other offenses depending on the nature of the violation. The parent in violation may face fines, higher child support, reduced custody rights, reduced visitation, or even jail time. It’s also possible to secure a restraining order to prevent them from contacting you or your children in the future with the help of a Tulsa, OK family law attorney.
A custody order violation involving your children can be an incredibly chilling experience. While it’s natural to be afraid and uncertain, it’s essential to remember your legal options and to work quickly to rectify the situation as safely as possible. An experienced Tulsa, OK family law attorney is an invaluable asset when you are facing any type of custody order violation.