Enforcing a Child Custody Order

Enforcing-a-Child-Custody-OrderMany co-parents who have been through a divorce or custody case will disagree on the interpretation of the child custody order at some point in the future. In the optimal case, co-parents will be able to civilly discuss their differences and resolve their conflict, but this is not always the case. Unfortunately, in many cases, the result can be that one or both parents stop obeying the provisions in the custody order. When this happens, there are several different options available to parents seeking to enforce the provisions of an order.

Sometimes a parent has no option but to file a motion with the court asking to have the non-complying parent held in contempt. In order to prove that the non-complying parent is in contempt, the other parent will need to prove that the failure to comply with the order was an intentional decision to disobey the order. In these cases, a judge has several different options available to sanction the offending parent. These options include imposing a civil penalty up to $500, award reasonable attorney’s fees, reimburse the non-offending parent for any costs incurred in getting the order enforced, or any other remedy that the judge finds to be in the child’s best interest.

Short of seeking contempt, a non-offending parent can also seek an order for compensatory parenting time. This option is available when a non-complying parent willfully retains a child for days or even longer past their scheduled parenting time. If the behavior is repeated often and is extreme, a court may even decide to permanently change custody or drastically reduce the parenting time enjoyed by the offending parent.

In some extreme cases, enforcement of a custody order could be accomplished through criminal charges. Under Minnesota Statute §609.26, a person can be charged with a felony for intentional interference with child custody. Behavior that could qualify under this statute includes actions such as concealing a child from the parent with the intention of depriving that parent of parenting time or custody, taking or retaining a child in violation of a custody order with the intention of depriving the other parent of parenting time, or retaining a child in Minnesota with the knowledge that the child was removed from another state under similar circumstances.

If you have questions about enforcement of an existing custody order, you need an experienced team on your side. Call us today at (651) 371-9117 to talk about your order, rights, and responsibilities.