Austin Child Custody Enforcement Lawyer

When you get divorced or separate from your co-parent, the court issues a custody order describing the parents’ rights and obligations concerning the children. These enforceable orders cover where the children live, how much time the non-residential parent has with them, who makes decisions for them, and other issues. It can wreak havoc when a parent does not comply with the custody order.

When you have issues with your co-parent ignoring your custody and visitation arrangement, contact an experienced child custody attorney. An Austin child custody enforcement lawyer at Kimbrough Legal PLLC could help you strategize the most effective way to force your co-parent to adhere to the custody order, including taking the matter back to court.

Strict Adherence to Conservatorship and Access Orders

Custody and visitation are usually called conservatorship and access. Conservatorship refers to where the child lives and who makes decisions for them, and access refers to a non-residential parent’s visitation schedule. Courts favor joint conservatorship, where parents share time with the children as equally as circumstances allow and share decision-making authority. In some cases, one parent has primary custody or sole decision-making authority.

Parents living separately must establish a conservatorship and access arrangement that serves their children’s best interests. Whether the parents devise their own arrangement or a judge imposes one, the children’s best interests are always the first consideration.

When a parent fails to comply with the custody and visitation plan, they put their desires or interests ahead of the children’s needs. Sometimes, a parent might be tempted to allow non-compliance to keep the peace, but tolerating it is a disservice to the children. A child custody enforcement attorney in Austin could help ensure the child’s best interests are served.

What Non-Compliance Might Look Like

An occasional instance of minor non-compliance with the plan might not require action, but when it occurs frequently, causes distress to the children, or interferes with a parent’s relationship with the children, taking steps to correct the situation is critical.

For example, when a parent’s work schedule means they are frequently late to pick up the children, an adjustment to the pick-up time might be necessary unless the parent can change their work schedule. However, when a parent is repeatedly very late or early, or cancels visits at the last minute, that situation requires more aggressive intervention. Other examples of non-compliance that merit action include:

  • Using drugs or alcohol in front of the children
  • Repeatedly returning the children late or early
  • Disparaging the other parent in front of the children
  • Consistently failing to have the children ready for visits
  • Taking the children out of the jurisdiction without permission
  • Having third parties around the children without notice or permission
  • Refusing to consult or inform the other parent about important decisions affecting the children

Any other violations of the schedule or rules of conduct governing the parents could justify enforcement action.

Keep thorough records of the co-parent’s violations of the parenting arrangements. When a pattern of non-compliance emerges, discuss the options for child custody enforcement with an Austin attorney.

Enforcing a Custody Order

Custody enforcement matters are often handled out of court. Parents can sometimes resolve the issue through discussions with each other or by taking the issue to mediation. Sometimes one parent’s attorney can inform the other’s legal representative that continued non-compliance will result in a court proceeding, which is often enough to make them adhere to the plan.

When less aggressive measures are ineffective or inappropriate given the situation, an Austin attorney could file a motion to enforce the child custody order. Texas Family Code §157.002 requires a motion requesting enforcement to include specific examples of a parent’s non-compliance with the order, including dates and times.

When a judge finds the parent has no justifiable reason for their non-compliance, they can compel the parent to comply and hold them in contempt of court. A contempt finding could lead to fines and even jail time in extreme cases. A judge also could order a modification of the parental agreement to restrict the non-compliant parent’s rights when they feel doing so serves the children’s best interests.

Contact an Austin Attorney About Custody Non-Compliance

Issues surrounding children are often triggering when parents live apart. Work with an attorney who combines deep legal knowledge with compassion and empathy.

Contact an Austin child custody enforcement lawyer at Kimbrough Legal PLLC who can help you resolve non-compliance issues and represent you in court.