If a parent isn’t following custody orders in New York, your options depend on the seriousness of the order violation. If they are depriving access or a potential case of parental kidnapping (or what amounts to parental kidnapping), the matter needs to go to court immediately. In that case, your best option is to file an Order to Show Cause. If you are the custodial parent, you can also file a Writ of Habeas Corpus in conjunction with the Order to Show Cause. This is a court order which means “return of the body” in Latin. It essentially compels the other parent to return the child immediately.
If the matter is less serious than deprivation of access or potential parental kidnapping, your best option is to issue a Default Notice Letter. This specifies the violation and either asks the other party to immediately remedy the violation or to immediately contact the issuer to negotiate a remedy. If the issue has not been remedied and no effort has been made to come to a resolution within a certain number of days, you may be able to follow up by filing a Violation of Enforcement Petition. This petition, often filed in family court, is usually most successful if there is a pattern of violations by the offending parent.
I Am Being Held In Contempt For Failing To Comply With A Child Custody Order In New York. What Does That Mean?
“Contempt of court” simply means it’s been alleged that you’ve violated an order of the court. A person who has a contempt filing against them is still entitled to a trial regarding whether they have violated the order or not.
It should be noted that contempt of court is a potentially serious charge, and can have serious consequences if you are convicted. These consequences can include fines, having to pay for opposing counsel fees, changes in custody or visitation, and even jail time. If you are in this position, it would absolutely be in your best interest to seek legal representation before making your next move.
I’ve Been Accused Of Not Following A Custody Order. What Can I Do Right Now To Protect My Rights To Custody Of My Children?
If you have actually violated, or are violating, a custody order, the first thing you should do is to follow the order.
If you have any questions about whether you should follow certain provisions of the order, or you disagree with the allegation that you were violating the order in the first place, the best thing you can do is to consult an attorney on the issue right away. An attorney will be able to understand your side of the story and present it to the court in the most effective way possible.
What Do I Need To Do To Prove That A Custody Or Visitation Order Is Not Being Followed In New York?
This depends on the alleged violation and the order.
For example, let’s say you are the custodial parent, and your co-parent is not showing up for visits when they are supposed to. One of the things I recommend to my clients in this situation is to carefully document every violation in order to create a paper trail (or an e-trail, as the case may be). You can do this by sending an email or text message every time your co-parent violates the order, describing exactly how, when, and where that violation took place. For instance, if your co-parent doesn’t show up for a visit one evening, you can send a text like the following:
“Hey, you were supposed to show up at 6:00 PM tonight, but you didn’t show up. I don’t know why. You also didn’t contact me beforehand. Please make sure to come to scheduled visitations, and if you are unable to do so, please make sure to contact me beforehand.”
Of course, in some cases, the flipside happens. For example, let’s say you’re the non-custodial parent, and the custodial parent is not producing the child for visits when they are supposed to. In that case, you should also document the violations every time they happen – by text or email. Thus, if you show up to the custodial parent’s house for a scheduled 6:00 PM visit, and the child is not produced at that time, you can send a text like the following:
“Hey, you were supposed to make our child available for visitation at 6:00 PM tonight. I showed up, but the child was not there, and I don’t know why. You also didn’t contact me beforehand. Please make sure to bring our child to scheduled visitations, and if you are unable to do so, please make sure to contact me beforehand. In addition, please contact me as soon as possible to schedule a make-up visit.”
These are just two examples of things that people can do to document violations. Documenting violations with a paper trail is always a good idea. However, you should also keep in mind that the evidence needed to successfully prove that an order has been violated depends on the extent & context of the violation.
What Happens If The Custodial Parent Violates A Visitation Order In New York?
If the custodial parent fails to produce a child for a scheduled visit, the non-custodial parent should immediately ask why in an email or a text. This documents the violation, but also allows for the possibility that there really is an innocent reason – like the child being sick or the two of them getting stuck in traffic. If there really was a legitimate reason why the custodial parent didn’t bring the child to the right place at the right time, the non-custodial parent should simply be given makeup time at a later date.
If there is a pattern of missed visits with no acceptable explanation, then the non-custodial parent should file an enforcement action in court. Contrary to popular belief, they should actually file that sort of order sooner rather than later. They should not wait for the violations to stack up for many months, because at that point a Judge may question why they waited so long to bring that issue back to court.
For more information on Enforcing Custody And Visitation Orders In NY, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (347) 797-1188 | (914) 362-3080 today.