27 Jul What To Do if Your Spouse Won’t Follow a Custody Agreement
Washington State requires divorcing parents to file a parenting plan that establishes physical and legal custody of the children as well as a visitation schedule. When the court accepts the plan, the plan becomes an enforceable court order.
Unfortunately, even the most carefully worked out parenting plans can fall apart if one parent fails to comply. Whether you are the custodial parent or a non-custodial parent entitled to visitation with your kids, you should know what to do if your spouse won’t follow a custody agreement.
Keep a Record of Violations
There will always be traffic jams or other unforeseen circumstances that cause a non-custodial parent to slip up a bit under the terms of the custody order. But repeated and ongoing violations of a custody arrangement require action.
Document every time your ex violates the custody arrangement. If you are the non-custodial parent, keep a record of when your ex takes actions that effectively interfere with your visitation time.
Documentation can take the form of saved text messages or emails reminding your ex about their obligations. You can also use formal written correspondence, like a registered or certified letter with a return receipt that lists all the times your ex has violated the agreement.
Keep Up Your End
Just because your ex violates the agreement doesn’t mean you should fail to hold up your part of the parenting responsibilities. If you must go to court to enforce the custody order, it’s not going to look good if you’ve shown the same disregard for it as your ex. So, keep paying child support if you are required to, stick to the assigned custody schedule, and keep a record of your own compliance.
File a Contempt Motion
Repeated and flagrant disregard of a court-ordered child custody agreement is a crime in Washington State. Ignoring a court order can subject someone to a charge of contempt of court. Penalties may include a modification of the custody arrangement in the parenting plan and/orpaying attorney fees .
Warn your spouse in writing that if they continue to violate your custody agreement, you will file a contempt action in court. This way, you’ll be prepared for whatever excuses or explanations they may offer when they are required to appear before a judge.
Willfully and intentionally denying a custodial parent access to the child by hiding, retaining, or detaining the child may constitute the crime of custodial interference. If this happens to you, call your local sheriff’s department, and visit your local police to file a custodial interference report.
The appropriate course of action when your spouse won’t follow a custody agreement is sometimes hard to choose. Seek the advice of an experienced Washington child custody lawyer to advise you on the best steps to take to enforce your custody agreement. LaCoste Family Law can help you approach the court to enforce or modify a custody arrangement to put a stop to the violations.