In a recent issue of the San Diego-based Mission Courier, a reader wrote to the “Ask The Cop” feature, asking what he could do to enforce a child custody order. Essentially, this is the situation: when it is the dad’s turn to see his son, his wife says that the boy does not want to go with him. What are his options? Child custody issues are often loaded with emotional and logistical dilemmas, and uniquely tied to the deepest bonds with our children. In situations like the one mentioned above, the best course of action is to contact a local family law attorney who has extensive experience handling a wide variety of child custody cases, someone with a history of proven success.
Under California law, a judge’s order concerning child custody and visitation becomes a court order that has the full force and effect of the law. This means that parents have legal options when someone violates the order of the court. The State of California maintains a family court website that provides several suggestions for parents who are concerned with protecting their rights under the child custody arrangement ordered by the court.
Parents are encouraged to do the following: 1) keep a copy of the most current order in a safe and easily accessible location (anyone involved in visitation should also have a copy of the order); 2) make sure that the court order clearly identifies the details of the visitation arrangement, including specifics as to where the children will spend special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, vacations, etc.; and 3) if you and the other parent agree to modify the visitation or time share arrangement, be sure to update the court order.
Despite a parent’s efforts to ensure that the above items are taken care of, he or she could still be faced with a situation where the other parent does not comply with the custody order’s terms. If that happens, the next step is to seek enforcement of the court order. Reaching out to a local family law attorney is a good place to start — counsel could help to file an action for contempt with the court. Essentially, in a contempt action, you would try to show that the parent willfully disobeyed the court order. Parents may also want to contact the local police department to ask if they can enforce the order. Another option is to contact the district attorney in your area.
If one parent has repeatedly violated the custody and visitation order, it is important to keep an accurate record of any and all violations including failing to show up, showing up late, or not returning the child on time. Sadly, failing to adhere to a child custody order is not uncommon. Parents who are expected to “share” their children according to a court-ordered document may not be happy about the final details. If you are confronted with a child custody issue, no matter what stage of the proceedings, you are encouraged to contact a San Diego family law attorney to help navigate the system and protect your rights.
Roy M. Doppelt is a knowledgeable family law attorney with more than 20 years of experience representing parents in child custody and visitation matters. Doppelt & Forney serves clients in Linda Vista, Encinitas, Scripps Ranch, San Diego, and throughout Southern California. For a free consultation with a dedicated family lawyer, contact Doppelt & Forney through the law firm’s website or give us a call toll-free at (800) ROY IS IT (769-4748).
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