Parents in New Jersey who share parenting rights and responsibilities need to work with one another. Whether they set the terms of their custody order themselves or litigated in family court, they must cooperate to uphold the custody order for the benefit of their children.
A custody order typically describes a specific breakdown of parenting time to minimize conflict between the adults about spending time with the children. Custody arrangements can also address decision-making authority. Parents usually share both authority and time with their children, and they need to cooperate with one another to effectively share parenting time and decision-making authority.
Unfortunately, some people really resent the obligation to work with their co-parents and may blatantly violate the terms of their custody orders. What can a frustrated parent do when attempting to co-parent with someone who won’t follow a custody order?
Maintain written record
If someone hopes to enforce an existing custody order, they may need to prove that violations of the order have occurred. Doing so requires documentation. Written records of one parent’s violations of the agreement that contain key details can help uncover an unhealthy pattern in the co-parenting relationship.
Denied or shortened visits, refusals to allow the other parent to communicate with the children, decisions made without input and other custody order violations can all help substantiate someone’s claim that a co-parent won’t uphold the custody order. The written records of violation should include the details of each incident, including a time, date and location, as well as exactly what occurred and who was present.
Attempt an amicable resolution
Often, the New Jersey family courts prefer to see parents working together to amicably resolve a matter instead of fighting bitterly with one another. Someone frustrated by a lack of input in major decisions or reduced time with their children may be able to resolve the matter with the other parent. Communicating with them about the issue and proposing a reasonable solution, like make-up parenting time, could help someone resolve the matter and prevent future issues from impacting their relationship with their children.
Request enforcement support
If the other parent refuses to cooperate, then someone denied their parental rights can ask the courts for help. A New Jersey family law judge has the authority to enforce custody orders, possibly by declaring someone in contempt of court. A judge may award someone make-up parenting time or modify an existing custody order to reflect the ongoing misconduct of one of the parents.
No one should have to abide by violations of a custody order that could potentially damage their relationship with their children. Recognizing when it is necessary to speak up about custody or violations may help parents preserve the bond they have with their children.