Dealing with custody issues can be one of the most stressful, difficult, and frustrating aspects of attempting to move on after a separation or divorce.
When you go through a contentious California divorce that involves children, sticking to a regular visitation schedule can prove difficult at times. If your ex still harbors feelings towards you, or wants to hurt you for any reason, they may try to put the children in the middle by refusing visitation.
Violating a Child Custody Order is a Serious Matter
If your children are not returned to you on time, there are several legal actions you can pursue including going to the police with your court order or filing an “Order to Show Cause” with the court in order receive make-up time with your children/receive primary residential custody if your ex continues to show up late.
To be clear, violating a child custody order is a very serious matter under California law. A parent who violates a child custody order can be held in contempt, and this can trigger a variety of different consequences. As the California Courts explain, filing an action for contempt “is very complicated and can have serious consequences. Talk to a lawyer to get help with it.”
If your child’s other parent is violating the terms of your custody order by not child back on time, potential legal remedies include:
- Modification or termination of custody or visitation rights
- Community service and/or imprisonment
- Payment of attorneys’ fees and costs
Should You Attempt to Work it Out?
It will be in your children’s best interests to try to resolve the matter amicably. Is your former spouse or partner aware that he or she has been late? Is he or she aware of the effects that his or her actions are having on you and your child? Is there a reason why he or she is late (i.e. a change in job schedule), and is this an issue that you can address out of court?
Oftentimes, separated and divorced parents will be able to reach a resolution either informally or by agreeing to modify their custody and visitation schedule. If you file an enforcement action in court, the judge may ask if you have tried to resolve the matter without court involvement as well.
How an Ex Can Try to Defend Their Actions
As children get older, their needs and wants will hold more weight. A child who is 14 years old can choose to remain at the home of one parent over the other, without custodial interference charges holding up in court. While it is not as simple as giving the child what they want, not returning a child home at the scheduled time if the child doesn’t want to go there does not mean automatic interference with the visitation schedule.
If an Ex Claims the Child Is in Danger
Your former spouse may try all kinds of tricks to try and keep the children from you. They may try to say that your home isn’t safe and that they didn’t send the children to you because they are in danger in your care. In addition, they may try to prove that you are an unfit parent by calling Child Protective Services. While this can all be extremely overwhelming, it is up to you to remain as calm as possible. If you don’t have legal representation, it’s time to find the money to do so. You have a right to parent your children, and you may need to defend that right against an ex who is determined to make it difficult for you to be in their lives.
WE WILL BE THERE WHEN YOU CALL
Divorce cases are very difficult and complex. You need an experienced Los Angeles Family Attorney to guide you through the legal process. Contact our law firm today at 562-439-9001 if you or someone you know needs the help of an experienced family law attorney. We will be here for you when you call. Schedule a free consultation!
We are very central to all of Long Beach, Seal Beach, Lakewood, Palos Verdes, San Pedro, Newport Beach; and regularly serve all of Los Angeles.
This is intended as general advice and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Each situation is unique and requires specific analysis of relevant contracts, facts and legal obligations.