When you go through a divorce in Washington and have minor children, you’ll be asked to create a parenting plan. This is an agreement that is ratified by the courts detailing who is legally and financially responsible for the care of the children.
A parenting plan covers such things as custody, visitation, holiday arrangements, child care, school, health care, and more. There are also provisions for how disputes and changes to the agreement will be handled.
When approved by the courts, these become court orders, so it’s never a good idea to violate them. Unfortunately, a parent sometimes does violate a parenting plan, and there are consequences.
What Happens When a Parenting Plan is Violated
If a parent violates the terms of an approved parenting plan, they are also violating a court order. This opens that parent up to a potential contempt of court charge in a Washington family law court. Some examples of contempt involving parenting plans include:
- Frequent visiting time violations
- Trying to alienate the child against the other parent
- Refusing to allow the other parent to see the child according to the plan
The penalties for a civil contempt of court charge in Washington will vary depending on the seriousness of the offense and how frequently it was committed. For a minor offense, the court can order that the offending parent provide make-up missed visitation with the other parent. If there is a major or repeat offense, it’s possible that penalties could include the loss of custodial rights and jail time.
What to Do If Your Ex Violates a Parenting Plan
So, what do you do if your ex isn’t following the terms of the parenting plan? The actions you should take will depend on your particular circumstances and the nature of the violation.
If you feel that your child is in danger, you should call the police immediately. This can also be the first step in filing a temporary restraining order or protective order in severe cases. While the police are technically able to enforce any court order, some are reluctant to get involved in family law matters.
You will also want to consult with a qualified family law attorney that can help you gain relief through the court with a Motion to Enforce. This motion lets the court know that your ex is not complying with the court-approved parenting plan. You’ll get a hearing date and can ask the court to punish your ex, re-affirm the plan and make you whole.
If you have an ex that has violated your parenting plan, the experienced family law attorneys at Steller Legal Group can help. Our Tacoma family law practice specializes in helping families untangle challenging legal issues such as divorce, custody, child support, and post-judgment modifications.
Contact our office now to schedule your free consultation to discuss your situation and case strategy.