Once a custody agreement has been approved by the court, you and your spouse are obligated to follow the terms of that agreement. If changes needs to be made, you will need to speak with your attorney about submitting a request to the court to modify the existing order; you cannot just unilaterally make changes that your ex has not agreed to or that the court has not sanctioned.
Of course, real life doesn’t always work that way, and many divorced parents find themselves in conflict with an ex because he or she keeps violating the custody agreement. If that is happening to you, here are your options:
Appeal to their emotions. It can be heartbreaking to see your child’s feelings hurt when the other parent either changes plans at the last minute or simply fails to show up. Usually your heartbreak turns to anger against you ex and you are ready to fire off an angry email or call to berate them for their carelessness. While it may make you feel better in the short term, it does not solve the problem. Take some time to regain your composure and then send your ex an email telling them that your child was heartbroken and that you want their help in coming up with a solution so it doesn’t happen again.
Offer to change custody agreement. If your ex is violating the agreement all the time, this is either because they are unable to stick to a schedule or something is preventing them from doing so. If it’s the latter, ask your ex if you need to change the schedule. Try to be flexible for the sake of your children.
Document violations. If your ex’s behavior continues even after you have made attempts to be flexible, start documenting every time it happens. If you use co-parenting apps, there are ways to document in those. If you don’t use apps, then send an email or text every time a violation occurs to document it.
Try mediation. Before you go for a court order, consider mediation. You and your ex can work in a more informal setting with a neutral third party mediator to find a solution, whether it’s giving your ex a deadline to notify you of a missed visit so your child is not disappointed at the last minute, or reworking visitation times.
Go to court. If you have tried everything and your ex is still not following the custody order, you can file for a contempt order. You will need documentation to prove the order violations during the hearing, and what you have done to help your ex follow the order.
At Cistaro Law, we are not only concerned with your divorce today, but also with your quality of life long after your case is over. Your family law issues deserve to be managed with dignity and respect. You can prepare to civilly resolve your divorce, heal, and move on with your life with a legal team that has helped individuals all over New Jersey to heal and prosper. Contact us today for your free consultation.