Married parents who decide to divorce will have to negotiate a custody arrangement. Unmarried parents who separate or break up will also need to make changes to their parenting arrangements. A Maryland custody order will detail a general division of parenting time.
Although people may expect to share custody 50/50, that is not always the most practical solution. A custody order will also provide clarity about decision-making authority about important matters like medical decisions for the children. Typically, the adults in the family share time with and responsibility for the children, but they may not necessarily be happy with the terms of their arrangement. Occasionally, one adult in the family will feel like the other consistently fails to abide by the custody order. What can a parent do under these circumstances?
Review the custody order
Sometimes, people misunderstand their rights or the terms of their custody arrangements. In such scenarios, what someone thinks is a violation of their custody order might not be. Therefore, reviewing the specific terms set in the paperwork to establish whether a violation actually occurred will be important. If there has been a notable violation, then the parent denied time with the children or worried about the choices made on their behalf will want to document those issues.
Discuss the matter, if possible
Ideally, co-parents struggling to abide by the terms of the custody order can reach an amicable resolution by addressing the issue directly. Having a calm conversation discussing how one parent has shortened the other’s parenting time, denied them visitation or failed to show up for their own parenting time might result in changes. Unfortunately, some people intentionally violate custody orders in an attempt to interfere in the relationship that the other parent has with their children. In that scenario, the matter may need to go back to family court.
Secure enforcement or modification assistance
There are a few ways that the courts can help in a situation involving deviations from an established custody order. Sometimes, judges can modify a custody order, particularly when one parent has consistently failed to show up for or make use of their parenting time. Other times, they may engage in enforcement actions, which could include accusing someone of contempt of court because of their failure to abide by the custody order.
If the parent asking for enforcement support or a modification of the existing order has evidence supporting their complaints, a judge could very well intervene on their behalf. Even when there is clear documentation of one parent violating the custody order, however, the judge’s final decision will focus more on the best interests of the children than on the desires or rights of the parents. Knowing what steps to take when facing custody conflicts may help people navigate a co-parenting dispute more successfully. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.