Child Custody

What If My Ex Violates Our Parenting Plan?

Co-parenting can be difficult for any couple, but it can be even more challenging for partners who have parted ways and are subject to court-ordered parenting plans.

Whether you are subject to a parenting plan during a pending divorce, after divorce, or as the result of stand-alone child custody matter, you have important rights and responsibilities.

This can include the right to shared parenting, decision-making, and parenting time, as well as obligations to provide for children financially and comply with court orders.

What Constitutes a Parenting Plan Violation?

While parents may have been able to reach an agreement to finalize their divorce or child custody matter, it does not mean they will always uphold their end of the bargain.

There are many ways parents may violate parenting plans. Some examples include:

  • Missing a parenting exchange
  • Arriving late for pick-ups/drop-offs or missing scheduled parenting time
  • Extending parenting time beyond an agreement without the other parent’s permission
  • Refusing to allow the other parent to exercise his/her parenting time
  • Failing to pay child support or refusing to pay his/her share of expenses
  • Exposing children to dangerous situations, domestic violence, or allowing them to spend time with persons prohibited by an agreement
  • Failing to allow the child to communicate with the other parent
  • Moving outside of a geographic restriction (relocation)
  • Refusing to let children attend school or pre-existing obligations
  • Failing to obtain the other parent’s consent for major decisions

Parenting plans are typically detailed agreements with provisions that cover the duties and arrangements for child custody and parenting time (visitation), extracurricular expenses, child support, health insurance, and more.

Given the specificity of parenting plans, occasional lapses from outlined requirements are common, as are requests to deviate from plans due to special events or circumstances.

While co-parenting does require flexibility in accommodating periodic and reasonable changes to a parenting plan, repeated or serious violations may warrant further action.

What To Do When a Parent Isn’t Following a Parenting Plan

If the other parent of your child fails to comply with the terms of your parenting plan, you can take the following actions:

  • Document the violations: Keep records of the other parent’s violations. You can record these as a list or on a calendar to track dates and times parenting time was withheld, scheduled pick-ups or drop-offs missed, and other violations. If available, you can also include copies of messages from the other parent. Keeping thorough and organized records can be help you prove a pattern of violations should it come time to take your matter to court.
  • Consider communication and mediation: Many cases of non-compliance can be resolved without the need for litigation. Communication may be enough to resolve another parent’s non-compliance, especially when you are armed with documentation about a history of violations. Mediation, a form of alternate dispute resolution in which a neutral third-party helps parties arrive at a mutual agreement, may also be an effective method for resolving conflict.
  • Speak with an attorney about legal action: If out-of-court efforts fail to resolve a dispute, you can speak with an attorney to discuss your available legal options. This may mean filing a motion to enforce a court order and having a Judge decide an appropriate resolution, such as scheduling make-up time for lost parenting time or making modifications to an existing parenting plan. It could also mean asking the Court to hold the other parent in contempt, which can come with consequences that include fines and jail time. In any event, asking the court to intervene will require you to prove your claims.

Grossman Law Offices is comprised of award-winning Columbus attorneys, six of whom are Ohio State Bar Association Board Certified Family Law Specialists. With decades of collective experience, our team can help you better understand your rights and options for parental non-compliance and enforcement. Call or contact us online to request an evaluation with one of our attorneys.