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How can you enforce your custody order when your ex won't comply?

Shared custody is a common outcome in a Michigan divorce. The courts want to do what is best for your children, which will usually mean helping them maintain the love and support of both parents. Whether you have an even 50/50 split of custody or see your kids a few nights a week and alternating holidays and weekends, you likely treasure every moment of time you get to spend with them now that you have less of that precious bonding time.

Unfortunately, either due to a lack of foresight and planning or potentially malicious desire to limit your relationship with the kids, it could be possible for your ex to interfere with your parenting time, particularly if the kids are with them more than you.

It is reasonable and normal to feel angry and hurt when the time you expect to spend with your children gets reduced or canceled. Instead of blowing up at your ex, which could hurt your case in the future, your best option is to react calmly to any denied parenting time and then take steps to enforce the court order.

Review the custody order, and document denied parenting time

Sometimes, confusion about what a parenting plan actually includes can lead to conflict between parents. While you might anticipate having time with your children on specific days, your ex may interpret the parenting plan differently. Before you can take any action, you need to re-read the document and determine what your parenting rights are.

From there, you can reasonably decide whether the refused parenting time constitutes a violation of your rights and the court order. If you believe that your ex has violated the terms of the custody order, you will need to prove to the courts that it happened.

Keeping a detailed account of every time that your ex refuses visitation or cuts your time with your children short will help you provide evidence to the courts about the violation of the custody order. Michigan courts do not condone intentional parental alienation. They can also help you enforce a shared custody order when your ex won't comply.

What steps will the courts take to enforce parenting time?

Typically, when you go to the courts to request enforcement, your ex will have at least one opportunity to correct their behavior before the courts take significant enforcement action. However, in extreme cases, the courts may take decisive action at an initial hearing about enforcing a custody order.

At the very least, they will likely order your ex to allow you to make up your missed parenting time. This is usually an even exchange based on the number of hours or days you should have had with your children. If your ex still does not comply, it is possible that you will need to go to mediation or a joint meeting to negotiate new terms.

If the violations continue, there could be a court hearing related to contempt of court. Your ex could face a fine, jail time or a loss of some of their parenting time. The courts may modify the parenting plan to reflect the fact that one parent wants to alienate the children from the other.

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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