Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Friday, July 28, 2017

My Spouse is Not Complying With the Child Custody Agreement - What Can I Do?

If you’re involved in a child custody dispute, you might feel like the courts and family law lawyers don’t understand how urgent the problem is.  After all, there are important things on the line that you can’t get back, and can’t do over: first steps, birthdays, graduations, vacations, and family reunions.

But even with so much on the line, if your co-parent isn’t complying with your custody agreement the most important thing you can do is stay calm.  As long as you’re doing everything right and he or she is causing the problem, you have the ability to gather the power of the State behind you—including things like sending the police to enforce the court’s orders.  But as soon as you start behaving badly and violate the court’s orders, you give that power away.  So even though there’s a lot on the line, the first step is to take a deep breath and make sure you handle the situation right.

What is a Custody/Visitation Enforcement Petition?

A “Custody/Visitation Enforcement Petition” is a form you file can with the Family Court to intervene in a custody dispute.  You are “petitioning” (asking) the court to enforce the custody or visitation arrangement.  You are eligible to file this kind of petition if:

  1. the custody or visitation order is from a New York State Court;
  2. you are the parent;
  3. the child or children are under 18;
  4. the child or children are not in foster care; and
  5. only you and your co-parent are named are on the order you want enforced.

If you don’t meet any of these criteria, there are other ways you can seek the court’s intervention, but you should have the guidance of a qualified attorney.

How do I file a petition?

Filing a Custody/Visitation Enforcement Petition is like most court proceedings—you’ll have to complete the proper paperwork, and then have copies served to your co-parent so he or she will be on notice that they are required to appear in court.  Although you can file a petition without an attorney, it’s usually best to have the help of qualified legal counsel.  The petition form is five pages long, and includes questions designed to elicit exactly the behavior that is in violation of the order or judgment.

It’s very important to complete all of the paperwork properly, and to be sure that it is properly served upon your co-parent; otherwise the court won’t be able to hear your case, and will have to set a new court date to give you time to correct the problem…and during that time, you might be missing more visits, birthdays, and other events.  If you’re having problems getting your co-parent to honor the terms of your custody or visitation arrangement and need help, please call us today to set up a free consultation at 516-228-9181 to discuss your options.

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