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What recourse is available when a parent abuses/violates parenting time order?

When a couple with children breaks up and has to sort out custody issues, it isn’t uncommon for there to issues that arise even after a court establishes a parenting plan. Whether the plan was mutually agreed upon by both parents before the court’s approval, or directly ordered by the court, issues can arise when couples fail to cooperate with the terms of the plan.

Enforcement action can be initiated by filing a petition listing, among other things, the terms of the parenting plan or allocation judgment and the nature of the violation of the plan or judgment. Parties who initiate an enforcement action are expected to provide specific dates and relevant information regarding the violation. They must also have made a reasonable attempt to resolve the dispute. 

If, upon considering all the evidence, the court finds that it is more likely than not that a parent has violated the terms of the parenting plan, the court has the ability to take a number of steps, depending on what is in the best interests of the child. Possible remedies include:

  • Imposing additional terms or conditions to help ensure compliance;
  • Requiring parental education at the expense of the parent who violated the order;
  • Requiring family or individual counseling;
  • Requiring the parent who violated the order to post a cash bond or other security to ensure compliance in the future;
  • Makeup parenting time;
  • Reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred as a result of the violation;

The court may also hold the violating party in contempt of court, which can result in additional sanctions. We’ll continue looking at this topic in our next post.

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