When a California judge makes a child custody determination and puts it in a written order, that order becomes the law. When a parent breaks the order, that parent is also guilty of breaking the law. In many cases, the parties of a custody agreement can work out their differences on their own and avoid future violations. However, in others, the non-offending parent may require outside help enforcing the agreement. If you are in a situation in which the other parent routinely violates the custody or visitation agreement, you may wonder what steps you can take to enforce it. The Judicial Branch of California explores your options.
Per the California Courts, you have three main options for enforcing a custody order. Those are as follows:
- Reach out to your local police department and ask it to enforce the order.
- Contact your county’s district attorney’s office.
- File an action for contempt of court in which you ask the court to intervene and make a finding that the other parent willfully defied the court-ordered agreement.
Ideally, police involvement is all it takes to convince a willfully disobedient parent to honor the custody agreement going forward. However, if involving law enforcement does not work for you, carefully consider the consequences of filing an action for contempt of court. If the court finds the other parent guilty, he or she may face jail time, hefty fines and other drastic consequences.
If you do have to go back to court, the Judicial Branch of California suggests bringing all accurate accounts of the violations. Those include a calendar with all the dates and times the other parent violated the agreement, a journal, eyewitness accounts, text messages and any other evidence you believe will support your case.