What if an Ex-Spouse Violates a Child Custody Agreement?

A divorce can be heart-wrenching and emotionally draining. In addition to having to decide where assets will go, if children are involved, custody issues need to be negotiated and eventually determined by the court. Often the final results of the custody battle will leave one or both parents frustrated and unsatisfied.  Despite the legal weight of the court's final decision, an ex spouse may decide to take matters into his/her own hands and violate a child custody agreement.  When this happens, there are options the custody parent can take advantage of.

Verify the Violation

Strange as it may seem, one spouse could conceivable do something you think is a violation according to the agreement, but in reality it was something you've just assumed to be a violation based on something else in the agreement.  Pull out the actual agreement and read through it carefully.  Satisfy yourself that what has happened is indeed a violation according to the paperwork. 

Call the Police

If your ex-spouse has actually violated the custody agreement as you understand it and from what you can tell reading over the paperwork, then contact the police.  You have a right under these circumstances to contact the police.  Usually the violation is because the ex-spouse failed to return the child to the agreed upon place at the agreed upon time.  The police are authorized to return the child to you in these circumstances. 

Request Temporary Full Custody

If you ex-spouse violates the child custody order you can also take things a step further by asking the court to grant you temporary full custody without visitation rights. You can argue that this will keep your ex-spouse from taking off with your children while you await a hearing date to discuss the violation of the custody agreement. Emergency hearings to request this temporary injunction don't usually take long to set up and usually judges make appropriate decisions in these types of cases. 

Request Permanent Full Custody

After receiving the temporary order you will still need to return to the court to request permanent full custody of your children.  Depending upon how your ex-spouse violated the custody agreement - for example, if he tried to flee with them - you could set up his visitation rights such that they will need to be supervised.  By violating the original custody order your ex has made his own visitation rights more difficult for both him and his children. You, however, must take the right steps so that he won't have another opportunity to take off with your children permanently.

Contact an Attorney

As you know from going through a divorce, it is best to have competent counsel.  Hire an attorney who can help you through the legal paperwork involved and ask questions which are in you and your children's best interests.  Many non-custodial parents have escaped with their children and the custodial parent has never seen them again.

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