Once a court in Pennsylvania finalizes a child custody agreement, each parent is expected to obey the terms or face consequences, regardless of whether the agreement is based on the court’s wishes or the parents’. If one parent violates the terms, he or she may be subject to a variety of punishments including attending parenting classes, fines, jail time, and even losing custody altogether.
Violation of child custody agreements can be particularly difficult because it can strain the relationship that a child has with each parent. The court will determine custody or visitation agreements based on what is best for the child, and therefore, violations are taken very seriously. If one parent disobeys the agreement, the other parent may file contempt charges in order to have the court enforce the terms or hold the non-complying parent in contempt of court.
Common violations of custody orders include:
Interfering with Communication – In Pennsylvania, contact does not necessarily have to be cut off completely between the parent and child for it to be considered a violation. If one parent blocks phone calls, intercepts e-mails, or otherwise disrupts the parent-child relationship with his or her ex-spouse, they can be held in contempt.
Preventing Visitation – Parents are not allowed to prevent the other from visiting with his or her child by scheduling appointments or extracurricular activities during the agreed upon visitation times. The withholding parent may be punished for doing so by forfeiting his or her own time with the child in order for the other parent to make up time with the child.
Denying Visitation for Not Paying Child Support – Custody and child support are considered separate issues in Pennsylvania courts. If one parent fails to make a child support payment, the parent is still entitled to his or her visitation or custody rights. When a parent prevents children from spending time with the other parent for the sake of receiving payment, the withholding parent may be held in contempt of court.
Taking the Child without Alerting the Other Parent – If the other parent or a family member takes a child without permission, it can be counted as kidnapping, especially if the child is taken across state lines or out of the U.S.
Custody issues are often fraught with high-emotions. Learn how you can protect your rights as a parent by contacting the Montgomery County family law attorney Sheryl R. Rentz. If your former spouse is violating a child custody order, call (866) 290-9292 to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney who can help you move forward with a legal claim in court.