Child Custody Enforcement Attorneys Morris County, NJ
Serving Parents across Mendham, Chester, Morris Township, Chatham, Harding, Morristown, and Morris County
During any Morris County divorce or dissolution of a domestic partnership involving the parents of children, one of the most critical, and often difficult issues that will need to be decided is that of child custody and visitation. New Jersey family law courts are of the belief that it is in the best interests of any child to spend as much time as possible with both parents after a divorce, so while this may not mean that you share legal custody of your children or a 50/50 parenting time arrangement, if you are interested in playing a role in your children lives, you will be granted fair visitation time which allows you to do so.
However, just because you enter into an agreement with your former partner regarding child custody and visitation, that doesn’t always mean they will uphold the terms of your child custody agreement. There are a variety of actions which can be considered a violation of a child custody agreement, and these violations may either call for a modification to your child custody agreement which more accurately reflects your circumstances, or alternatively may require you to file a motion with the courts to enforce the terms you and your co-parent agreed to your child custody settlement.
At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our family law firm has extensive experience helping parents to draft sensible and fair child custody agreements, modify those agreements when the circumstances call for it, and enforce those agreements with the help of the family court system when necessary.
Contact our firm today to discuss your unique situation and your legal options moving forward regarding your child custody matter in a free and confidential consultation.
Is My Morris County Child Custody Agreement Being Violated?
A family law court will consider your co-parent to be in violation of your child custody agreement in any of the following situations:
- Refusal to Adhere to the Visitation Schedule – If your co-parent is regularly violating the schedule outlined in your child custody agreement, is scheduling activities with your children during your visitation times, or is keeping the children overnight when they shouldn’t be, the courts will consider this parent to be in violation of your child custody agreement.
- Taking the Children without Notice – If your co-parent takes your children when you are scheduled to be with them, and does not notify you, this can also be considered a violation of your child custody order. In extreme cases where children are taken across state lines, such an action may even be considered “kidnapping”, and require FBI involvement.
- Disrupting Your Relationship with Your Children – If your co-parent is actively trying to disrupt your relationship with your children by making negative, disparaging, or untrue comments against you to your children, the courts may decide to modify your child custody order and limit the amount of parenting time your co-parent has with your children, as such actions do not foster a healthy relationship or environment for your children.
- Making Legal Decisions without Authority – As part of your child custody agreement, either one parent or both will be given “legal custody” of your children. Legal custody has nothing to do with visitation times, rather it is the authority given to one or both parents to make important decisions for their children regarding things like education, religion, and health care. If your co-parent is making these decisions for your children, for example deciding on a course of medical treatment for an injury or illness, without having the necessary legal custody to do so, the courts will find this parent to be in violation of your child custody agreement.
- Harming the Child through Habits or Choices – Finally, if a court finds that a parent’s habits or life decisions is harmful to their children, they may order a child custody modification in order to protect the children. For example, if your co-parent is exposing your children to second-hand smoke, or is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, such a modification may be necessary.
If your co-parent is committing any of these actions, speak with our family law team today regarding your options for modifying, or enforcing, your child custody and visitation agreement.
What Do I Do if My Former Spouse is Violating Our Child Custody and Visitation Agreement?
If your former partner is committing any of the actions listed above, then there are several actions we recommend that you take, and several potential options at your disposal when it comes to modifying your child custody agreement or enforcing the terms of your child custody agreement.
- Record Incidents of Child Custody Violations – Before taking any action to address your child custody enforcement issues, begin keeping a detailed account of each incident where your co-parent is in violation of your child custody agreement. When did the violation occur? How exactly were your co-parent’s actions in violation? What was said between you and your co-parent regarding the violation, and your attempts to address the issue? This record will be extremely useful down the road should legal action become necessary.
- Voice Your Concerns to Your Co-Parent – The easiest solution to your child custody violation concerns is to simply discuss them with your former partner, and attempt to reach an acceptable solution without legal intervention. It may be the case that your co-parent’s work schedule has changed, they have some new obligations which disrupts your existing visitation schedule, or even that they were unaware of your concern, and together you can take actions to resolve the issue at hand.
- Speak with Our Child Custody and Visitation Attorneys – If you and your spouse cannot work out whatever concerns you may have, or they prove unable or unwilling to uphold the terms you have agreed to, then legal action may be necessary. By speaking first with our experienced family law attorneys, we can advise you of your options moving forward, and take certain initial actions which may spur cooperation such as drafting a formal letter warning your spouse that, should they continue to violate your child custody agreement, they will face certain legal action.
- Modify Your Child Custody Agreement – If your co-parent’s schedule or obligations have changed, you may wish to modify your child custody agreement to reflect these new circumstances. Or, if your spouse is harming your children, or harming the relationship you have with your children, then you may also want to seek a modification which limits the visitation time your co-parent has with your children.
- File a Motion for Contempt – If you and your attorney are unable to resolve your co-parent’s repeated incidents of child custody agreement violations through mediation or negotiation, you may wish to file a motion for contempt with the family court. A motion for contempt is basically an accusation that your co-parent is not abiding by a court-ordered judgment, in this case, your child custody agreement. If found guilty of contempt, your co-parent will face monetary fines, sanctions, and in the case of repeat offenses, even jail time. Having a driver’s license revoked or spending a few days in County Jail can certainly be a strong wake-up call for any person, no matter how hard-headed they are.
- Contact the Police – Calling the police regarding a child custody violation is certainly an option, but generally should only be considered in extreme circumstances. By calling the police, you risk irrevocably damaging your relationship with your co-parent, and also risk upsetting your children, or causing them to resent you. That being said, in circumstances where your co-parent has removed the children from the state without the legal authority to do so, or is several hours late to an arranged drop-off and you cannot reach them, or your children, then calling the police is a valid and prudent measure. Should you find it necessary to call the police, be sure to have a certified copy of your child custody order on hand for reference.
When it comes to a child custody and visitation violation, you have a variety of options at your disposal. However, for any action requiring legal intervention, it is highly recommended that you retain the counsel of an experienced Mendham child custody enforcement attorney. Our attorneys can discuss your unique situation with you, advise you of your best and most realistic options for addressing your issue, and help you through the entire child custody modification or child custody enforcement process.
Contact Our Morris County Child Custody and Visitation Enforcement Attorneys Today
At The Law Office of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience handling family law matters of all kinds including child custody modifications and child custody enforcement for parents.
By practicing exclusively family law, our firm can focus on providing you with the knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate legal counsel that you need and deserve when it comes to matters affecting your family, and your rights as a parent. We believe that by keeping each of our clients highly informed and involved throughout the legal process, we can better understand their exact needs, and work towards resolving their family law matter in a way which best takes those needs and concerns into account.
To speak with our family law team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your pending child custody agreement, a child custody modification, or enforcing your child custody order, please contact us online, or through our Whippany, NJ office.