For many, the establishment of a court ordered custody agreement with a visitation schedule is the final chapter of a relationship. Unfortunately, problems can continue to arise when the time comes to start the visitation or shared parenting schedule. Parents and their families sometimes fail to understand the importance of following a custody agreement after it has been signed by a judge. Knowing how to file interference with child custody can help a parent gain control of what is often a volatile situation.
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Filing for interference of a child custody order may involve obtaining and reviewing the original custody order, seeking help from a family law attorney, filing a police report, filing a motion with the court and attending a hearing.
Obtain and Review the Custody Order
Visit the court that handled the child custody case filing and hearings. Obtain a copy of the certified child custody order from the clerk of court. The certified copy of the child custody order will be stamped by the clerk with the seal of the court authenticating that the order is true and correct. There is a fee for obtaining a certified child custody order which varies from state to state.
How an Attorney Can Help
If you had legal representation when the custody order was issued, advise the attorney of the interference of the other parent. If the attorney considers the interference to be moderate (returning a child after established visitation hours or making invalid excuses for not allowing visitation), the attorney may contact the parent committing the violation to remind him of the custody order. The attorney usually will mail a certified letter to the erring parent or the parent's legal representative.
If you were not represented by an attorney, it may be helpful to retain a family law attorney who can help you establish that custody interference has occurred.
Filing a Police Report Can Document Your Claim
File a report with the local police department. Do this if contacting the parent who is violating the order has not yielded results, or the interference escalates. Filing a police report will help to record the occurrences. Bring the certified copy of the child custody order to the police department since officers will need it to verify that the child custody order exists and is being violated.
File a Motion to Enforce the Existing Custody Order
Visit the clerk of court to file a motion to have the existing child custody order enforced. The clerk may have a form available to help draft the motion. The motion should have the petitioner’s contact information, the respondent’s contact information and the details of the interference occurrences, copies of the child custody order and the reports filed with the local police department. An affidavit swearing to the accuracy of the motion may be required that can be obtained, and notarized, at the court house. Once the motion is filed, a copy must be mailed to the respondent by registered mail or, in some cases, hand-delivered by an officer of the court such as a sheriff's officer or a private process server.
A Court Hearing will Result in a Ruling about the Interference
Attend a hearing at the local court. A hearing date will be scheduled after the motion has been filed. You should mail a copy of the hearing notice to the respondent by registered mail. Bring copies of the post office receipts to the hearing to prove that you properly notified the respondent. During the hearing, the judge will decide whether the respondent interfered with the custodial agreement and will give a ruling on the case.
The court may rule in your favor. There are many possible remedies if this is the case. The judge may order "make-up" parenting time or might require the other parent to pay fines, attorneys' fees and court fees. In some cases, courts may charge the parent who interfered with a crime.
It is also possible that the judge may determine that a temporary or permanent modification of your custody agreement is in order.
Following the custody agreement to the letter is important to avoid a potential claim of interference. When interference occurs, knowing the steps to take can provide much-needed peace of mind.