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My Ex Is Breaking Our Custody Order. What Should I Do?

It’s difficult enough to see or talk to your ex-spouse after the divorce is final. It can be 10 times worse if you have serious disagreements about how to co-parent together. The benefits of not having to interact with your previous partner go out the window as you clash about custody schedules and parenting practices. It might start to feel like you haven’t gotten divorced at all, and it can be intensely frustrating when your co-parent flouts a standing custody order. If you already have a standing custody order, but your co-parent isn’t honoring it, what are your options?

There are a few things to consider when you’d like to change a standing custody order. First, have circumstances substantially changed since the court order was approved by a judge? Perhaps you only signed it because you couldn’t afford to keep fighting in court, but you got a raise at work. Perhaps you didn’t have appropriate living conditions to bring your child home to, but now you’ve got a nice place. Perhaps your job wouldn’t allow you a flexible schedule, but now you can choose your own hours. On the other hand, maybe you feel your ex’s mental health has suffered since the divorce, and they’re not doing a good job caring for your child. Maybe your child has simply aged and their parenting needs have changed – what’s best for a toddler may not be best for a high schooler.

If you feel the circumstances around your custody order have significantly changed since it was approved by the court, you can submit a modification request. The court will then reconsider your custody order and potentially change it to be more in your favor, so long as they feel it is in the best interests of your child.

If your ex isn’t obeying the custody order in any way – limiting your custody, not showing up for their custody time, moving without telling you – you can submit a Motion for Contempt. The court will review the circumstances and, if they decide in your favor, your ex can be fined or sanctioned (punished) by the judge for failing to respect the court’s decision. Some examples of sanctions are:

  1. Ordering them to make up any missed custody time with your child

  2. Ordering them to attend parenting classes

  3. Making them pay your attorney’s fees

  4. Jail time and/or awarding you primary custody, if their actions are endangering your child

If you have a standing custody arrangement and would like it to change, schedule a free consultation with an attorney at Ruppert Law Firm LLC today. We can review your custody situation and discuss what you would like changed and why, how quickly we should move to change it, and give you peace of mind that we will do whatever we can to solve your problem. We’ll be by your side when you need it most.