If you have joint custody or visitation, you are constantly relying upon the other parent to follow through with the terms of the child custody order. In many cases, it can be a challenge to get the order followed, which can mean losing time with your children or resorting to violence or desperate actions to enforce the order. One of the most common instincts people have is to call the police to enforce an order, and that may work – but there are other options you can take to help ensure your child custody order is enforced. For help with your case, contact the Ventura child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today for a free consultation on your case.
How Can I Enforce My Child Custody Order in CA?
Whenever parents live in different households, whether because of divorce, legal separation, or some other reason, they should get an official court order from a judge dictating who has what rights to custody and visitation. This can set a parenting plan and create strong rules as to when each parent gets access to the children, how the children are transferred from one parent to another, and how supervised visitation will work. If you do not have an order in place, your first step should be to go to court and get one.
Once you have a child custody order signed by a judge, both parents are obligated to follow that order. Failing to do so can be considered contempt of court and can lead to serious issues. However, some parents may not be afraid of the phrase “contempt of court,” and they may willingly violate the order anyway. What can you do when this happens?
There are three main options for enforcing a child custody order in CA:
Call the Police
Police may be able to enforce a child custody order. Especially if there is danger involved and your child is at risk because of the way that they are being kept or the methods the other parent is using to keep them away from you, calling the police is the best option. Without immediate danger, police may not be willing to get involved in non-criminal issues, and you may need to resort to other options listed below.
When police respond, they likely have no prior information about who you are, who the other parent is, or what the agreement between you and the other parent is. Because of this, it is important to keep a copy of the child custody order accessible. Show this order to the police, and they can gain a better understanding of the situation. They can then potentially enforce the order by forcing the parent to turn over the child.
The drawback to this method is that it may result in ongoing 9-1-1 battles where each parent calls the police on the other after even the slightest misstep. Calling 9-1-1 should be reserved only for emergencies.
Call the DA’s Office
Calling the police is not the only way to report a crime. In many cases, you can report the crime yourself by calling your local DA. In cases where the other parent has kept the child for a prolonged time, you may want to contact your DA personally and file charges for kidnapping. In many instances, keeping a child in violation of visitation orders or child custody orders is illegal, and kidnapping charges may be justified.
If your child is in immediate danger, you should call 9-1-1 instead. The DA’s office might be able to get charges filed and issue a warrant for the other parent’s arrest and the immediate turnover of the children, but they do not have access to police dispatch. If your child is at risk, call 9-1-1 instead.
File for Contempt
Even if the risk of contempt does not deter the other parent from violating the court order, the court still has the power to enforce its orders. The judge may be able to issue a warrant for the other parent’s arrest or send them straight to jail until they agree to follow the order.
In many cases where a parent repeatedly violates the order, this can be a more permanent solution. Calling the police every time can be trying and may result in no permanent changes. However, a judge has the power to modify the custody order if one of the parties repeatedly violates the order. This may even end with stripping the violator of custody rights entirely, especially if their violations have put the children at risk.
Enforcing Child Custody Orders on Your Own
It is vital to remember that you should never resort to “self-help” in family law, child support, or child custody issues. The court’s custody order affects both parties, so violating the order as payback for a violation is still a violation and can put you in contempt of court. Always talk to an attorney for advice and tips on how to protect yourself and ensure your children change custody smoothly. Keeping a journal of violations and keeping a copy of the order on hand are important, but other tips may help in your case.
Call Our Ventura Child Custody Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you’re having trouble enforcing child custody in your case, contact the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth’s family law attorneys today. Our lawyers can help you fight to have child custody orders modified and protect your parental rights. For a free consultation, call us today at (805) 643-5555.