You hammered out the best parenting plan you could with your ex-spouse, but things change and it’s no longer working. Your ex isn’t interested in negotiating any changes, and in a moment of frustration, you think, “What can they do to me, anyhow, if I don’t follow the plan?”
Plenty. A parenting plan becomes an official court order the moment that it’s accepted by the judge, which means that you can’t violate it without also violating the law. While the court certainly isn’t likely to get involved over minor disputes, like the time you brought the kids back an hour late because you lost track of time, it can get involved if you willfully, seriously or repeatedly violate the parenting plan.
What sort of things can get you into trouble? Consider these:
- Failing to deliver the kids to their other parent for visitation at the regular time on a regular basis, especially if you do so intentionally
- Refusing to return the kids to their other parent after your visitation is over for whatever reason (even if you think it is in your child’s best interests)
- Prohibiting calls, emails and text messages between your ex and your children when such are allowed by the parenting plan
- Saying or doing anything that could be perceived as alienating your children against their other parent
If your ex makes a formal complaint to the court, you may be brought in for a contempt hearing. If the judge isn’t satisfied with your answers, you could be jailed, fined or have your custody and visitation radically altered.
If you have problems with your existing parenting plan, don’t try to handle the issue on your own. Speak with an experienced advocate about your options and find out how you can ask for a modification.