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Parents with a custody or visitation agreement must comply with these orders. They are put in place by courts and are supposed to keep children safe. 

Unfortunately, there are times when a parent violates a custody order, intentionally or accidentally. In such situations, it can be crucial for the non-violating parent to understand what a violation is and what remedies may exist.

Types of custody violations

Depending on the details of your custody order, the following actions could spark allegations of custody violations. 

  • Refusing to return the child to the other parent for his or her parenting time
  • Failing to show up for visitation
  • Allowing a child to skip school repeatedly or engage in dangerous behaviors
  • Coming to see the child without permission during the other person’s parenting time
  • Excessively calling, texting or otherwise contacting the child when he or she is with the other parent
  • Badmouthing the other parent
  • Engaging in dangerous habits or activities with the child present
  • Taking a child out of the state or country without notice 

These and similar actions can trigger a contentious custody dispute, so it is wise to avoid them at all costs.

What to do after a violation

If a violation does occur, the non-violating parent will want to consider taking action right away. Allowing a problem to continue can only make it worse and more difficult to resolve.

If the violation is an isolated incident and a child is not in danger, then discussing the situation with the other parent may be a good first step.

If a violation is serious or an ongoing problem, you might contact the police and/or file a petition to enforce the custody order. This could result in the courts finding the other parent in contempt, which can lead to penalties including fines, suspension of licenses and possible imprisonment.

In some cases, it may be necessary to seek a modification of custody if doing so would be in the best interests of the child.

Every mother and father should understand their rights and obligations under a custody order. Should questions or concerns arise, legal guidance from an attorney can be valuable.