Creating a custody schedule that works for both parents and is in the best interest of a child can be challenging and complex. Many California parents feel a justified sense of relief once a custody agreement is finalized and entered as an order of the court.
Therefore, when the other parent does not follow the terms of your custody order, you are likely to feel frustrated and discouraged. However, there are plenty of options available to you, and talking them over with a custody attorney may help.
Have your custody order available
It is important to keep a copy of your current custody order in a safe place that is easily accessible. An ideal custody order contains detailed language that lays out a specific schedule for the school year and summer as well as holiday and vacation periods, information about where exchanges take place, and any backup plans.
When you are not getting your custody time
If the other parent does not return your child to you and you are missing out on your custody time, contact the local police department and show them your custody order. The police will review the order and confirm that you are entitled to custody at that time. They will locate the other parent and require them to return your child.
Unfortunately, the police may not be able to locate the other parent. You can contact your local district attorney’s child abduction and recovery unit and ask them to assist you in locating your child.
When the other parent does not use their custody time
Alternatively, the other parent may not follow a custody order by not using their allotted custody time. You may file a contempt petition with the court.
After filing a contempt petition, a hearing is scheduled. At the hearing, you must show the court how the other parent is violating the terms of the order and tell the court what you would like them to do. A court may modify your custody order and reduce the other parent’s custody time or impose other penalties.
Sometimes situations arise that require a change in a custody order. Put any changes in writing and update your custody order through the court. You will have a much harder time arguing that the other parent is not following a custody agreement if the order on file with the court does not reflect that agreement.