What Are My Options if a Co-Parent Violates Child Custody Agreement in Maryland?
If your co-parent is engaging in behavior that violates the written, signed custody agreement you have with them, Maryland custody law offers several legal avenues which you to pursue.
What is a Custody Agreement Violation?
A custody agreement violation is a direct action against any of the terms in your written custody agreement. This includes custody arrangements you and your co-parent agreed upon in a legal agreement such as a Parenting Plan, Separation Agreement, Marital Settlement Agreement, or in the terms outlined by the Court in your child custody or divorce order.
Examples of Custody Agreement Violations
A parent violates a visitation agreement when they refuse to allow the child to spend time with the other parent during their allotted custody period or schedules something on the other parent’s time without that parent’s consent.
If you have joint legal custody, important decisions for your child—such as education and healthcare—must be made jointly. An example of a child custody violation is when one parent makes a decision without the required consultation and agreement of the other parent.
Failure to Pay
If a parent fails to pay a required expense for the benefit of the child—whether it is for child support, education, childcare, or medical care—can be a violation of the custody agreement.
How Can I Move Forward?
Before Taking Any Action
It is important to review your agreement or order very carefully before you accuse your co-parent of a violation. It also helps to have another person, such as an experienced family law attorney, review the order and agreement as well and confirm that there is value to pursuing the alleged violation.
Speak with Your Co-Parent
If you have a civil relationship with your co-parent, you may want to begin by writing a reminder to the other parent of the legal agreement and what you are alleging has been violated. If your relationship with your co-parent is volatile or nonexistent, a family law lawyer can make the communication on your behalf. This “good faith effort” to resolve the dispute prior to taking legal action is often appreciated by the Court.
Enforce the Order
If your co-parent refuses to cooperate and the violation is not corrected, you can look at your legal options. If the violation relates to a provision that is not part of a Court Order, a Motion to Enforce can be filed. However, if the violation relates to a provision in a Court Order, contempt of court can be filed.
Modify the Child Custody Agreement
If the violation is part of a larger problem in your child custody or support arrangement, there may be a basis to seek a modification. This approach can be pursued through the Courts or by proposing alternative dispute resolution.
Hire a Parent Coordinator
A Parent Coordinator can be hired to act as a neutral third party for co-parents who are locked in constant conflict with one another. Parent Coordinators work with parents who are struggling to communicate and attempt to reach a compromise regarding the best interests of the child. If a compromise cannot be reached, the Parent Coordinator may be able to decide.
Before you decide which option to choose, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney as soon as you suspect your custody agreement has been violated. Your family law attorney can help you come up with a strategy to help you address the problem.
Do you have questions about Custody Agreements or Parent Coordination? Contact Laurie Wasserman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-842-1070. The legal team at the Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman is here to help guide and advocate for you.
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