Consequences of Violating a Child Custody Order
When parents share custody of a child under a court order, each parent must understand and comply with the provisions of the order. Violating a child custody order can pose a risk of criminal sanctions and affect parental rights in the future. If you are parenting a child subject to a custody order and you violate the order — or the other parent violates the order — you should talk with an experienced family law attorney at the earliest possible time. Getting professional legal help can help you explore your options and determine the best way to proceed.
Custody Order Violations
When a judge issues a child custody order, one or both parents may feel that some of the terms are not fair or do not accurately reflect the child’s situation. Even so, each parent must fully abide by every provision of the order.
Custody order violations can occur in many different ways. Refusing to allow specified visitation or periods of custody is one possibility. Noncompliance with time deadlines, such as when the child must be given to a parent or returned to the other parent, also violates the terms of an order. Denying a parent any right included in a custody order constitutes violation of the order.
A violation may be minor — or it can be significant. If the violation occurs one time, either unintentionally or because of a situation beyond the parent’s control, it is not as serious as violations that occur repeatedly over a prolonged period. When a court reviews potential custody order violations, the judge considers the specific facts of the case, including the severity and significance of noncompliance and the frequency of occurrence.
In any matter relating to custody of a child, Nevada courts focus on what is in the best interests of the child in making decisions that affect the rights of the child’s parents. That legal rule applies when a custody order violation occurs, the same as it does when the judge makes the initial determinations in issuing the original custody order. In the event of a violation, the court has several options to address a parent’s noncompliance with the custody order.
Addressing a Child Custody Order Violation
If a parent violates the terms of a child custody order, the other parent may initiate an enforcement action in court, asking the judge to review the circumstances and require compliance with the provisions of the order. The court always reviews the facts of the individual case to determine how to proceed.
The judge has the option of modifying the custody order if the situation warrants changes to the terms. Modifications may affect either parent’s custody or visitation rights, if the judge determines changes to the order are necessary to further and protect the child’s best interests.
The judge also has the authority to hold a parent in contempt of court for failing to abide by the terms of the court’s custody order. A finding of contempt may result in imposition of a fine or jail time, or both. Depending on the circumstances, a parent may face other criminal charges as the result of an intentional noncompliance with the custody order.
Modification of the custody order and contempt are both consequences that may occur as the result of an enforcement action. In addition, a parent’s rights may be affected in the future by virtue of violating a custody order. For example, if the parent who failed to comply with the order asks for court permission to relocate the child at some point in the future, the judge may take the previous violation into account in determining whether to grant the relocation request.
Violating a child custody order can have a serious permanent impact on a parent’s rights with regard to the child, as well as the potential for facing criminal charges. Whether you are the parent seeking to enforce a custody order or a parent defending against a violation claim, representation by a knowledgeable lawyer is essential to protecting your rights and future.
When Should You Talk to a Family Law Attorney
If you are a parent coping with custody order violations by the other parent, it is in your best interest to reach out to a family law attorney as soon as custody issues arise. You should not attempt to remedy the violations on your own or retaliate by taking other actions that may also violate the order. Your lawyer can review the circumstances and advise you on your options for proceeding. If you wait to talk with a lawyer and take action on the violation, the delay may raise questions during an enforcement proceeding.
In the situation where you are the parent facing claims of custody order violations, you also should contact an attorney at the earliest possible time. As explained above, your parental rights can be significantly affected, and you may face possible court sanctions or criminal penalties as well.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Las Vegas Child Custody Lawyer
At The Gersten Law Firm, we assist clients with all matters relating to child custody, including violation of a custody order. As an experienced family law attorney, Joseph Gersten approaches every family law case with compassion and understanding, as well as dedication to protecting the interests and rights of the client.
The Gersten Law Firm does not charge for your initial consultation. We serve clients in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County. Call us at 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.