Small, Repeated Infractions of a Custody Order
Once parents have a custody order in place, the law requires that the parties adhere to the provisions of that order. If the parents willfully disobey the court order, they could be subject to the enforcement powers used by New Jersey courts, including contempt, fees, or even jail time. When one parent makes an obvious and considerable violation of the order, such as refusing to return a child on time or not making any support payments whatsoever, it is simple to decide that it is worth the time, effort, and money to return to court to enforce the order. Less simple, however, is deciding what to do in the event that one parent is making continual, but relatively minor, violations of the custody order.
As in any area of life, it is important to remember to choose your battles. If a parent is making small violations that are simply an inconvenience but in no way truly negatively impacts your child, then it may not be worth the battle. For example, if the parent is always ten minutes late for the exchange of the child, this may be annoying and inconvenient, but a ten minute difference is not going to be worth your time to return to court. If, on the other hand, these small infractions do impact the child in some way, it is worth at least a serious conversation with the other parent. Returning to the example of being late to drop off, if this is making the child miss part of an extra-curricular activity or cutting into homework time, the violating parent needs to be made aware of the problems he or she is causing.
The better strategy in cases such as these is to keep careful track of what types of violations are occurring and when. That way when you need to return to court for another, more important issue, the small violations can be included in your request for relief from the court. More importantly, it may be instrumental in proving to the court that a large violation is not an isolated incident, but rather a pattern of behavior that demonstrates a disregard for the authority of the court.
Dealing with another parent who shows little regard for the provisions of a court order is frustrating. We have helping our clients with these types of cases. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 to make an appointment to discuss your custody order.