While in an ideal world parents would comply with any custody or support order regarding their child, that does not always occur. It can be frustrating to try to co-parent with a person who is unwilling to abide by the rules set forth by the court. Additionally, a refusal to comply with the obligations set forth in custody and support orders will likely create confusion and turmoil in the life of the child the orders are intended to protect. As such, it is often necessary for one parent to take action to compel his or her co-parent to fulfill his or her parental obligations.
Enforcing a Child Custody Order
If your child’s co-parent refuses to comply with the terms of the order defining custody of the child, there are actions you can take to remedy the situation. First, it is important for you to continue to comply with the terms of both the custody order and any support order for your child, so that the co-parent will not have any grounds for action against you. It is also important to document every instance in which the co-parent does not comply with the custody order, so that if you must file any custody enforcement action with the court, you will be able to support your argument that whatever recourse you seek is necessary.
Did You Know?
In a handful of states, such as California, you can ask a court to order the other parent to compensate you for costs incurred, such as transportation or child care costs, when the other parent fails to take the children according to the schedule.
If possible, it is usually best to try to resolve the matter without court intervention. But if that is not feasible, you can file a motion for enforcement, and if necessary, a motion to hold the co-parent in contempt. Depending on the nature and severity of the violation, a court may choose to modify the custody arrangement, fine the parent who violated the arrangement, or choose another penalty it deems appropriate.
Enforcing a Child Support Order
IWO = income withholding order
If the co-parent of your child refuses to pay the child support ordered by the court, there are several ways to enforce the order and collect the money you are owed. First, you must file a petition with the court, asking it to enforce the agreement and hold your co-parent in contempt. If the court finds that the co-parent is in arrears and the debt is not paid prior to the hearing on the matter, the co-parent will be found to be in contempt and ordered to pay the amount owed. If the co-parent fails to appear for the hearing, the court may issue an order for his or her arrest.
If your co-parent continues to avoid his or her support obligation, there are additional means to recover the money you are owed. You can request that the court issue documentation that would allow you to request garnishment of your co-parent’s wages. If the court grants your petition, you will be able to recover a certain percentage of the co-parent’s wages to provide for your child’s support. Additionally, each state has a program that allows for automatic withholding of wages. If your co-parent’s employer is furnished with a valid support order the employer will be required to withhold a portion of the co-parent’s wages and submit it to the proper person or entity so that it may be disbursed to you. Lastly, the IRS has the authority to withhold some or all of the co-parent’s tax refund if it receives notification the co-parent has an outstanding custody support obligation.