Once a child custody order is issued in Massachusetts, both parents must adhere to it. However, if your co-parent does not comply with the order, you might wonder if you can do anything. From informally resolving the situation to having the other parent face legal repercussions, you have options to enforce your child custody order.
It is always best to have a court-issued child custody order as having an informal verbal agreement is not as easy to enforce. If you have not filed your custody agreement in court, it is in your and your child’s best interest to do so. If the order is official and your child’s parent is not following it, you can choose between three options. It is important to note, however, that each option has escalating severity and consequences. The options include:
• Reaching out to your child’s other parent to work out the issue and help them return to compliance
• Filing for contempt of court so you can sort out the issue in court
• Calling the police to ask for their help with enforcement of the order
Working it out between the parents might be better than a court battle
Depending on your situation and your relationship with the child’s other parent, you might find a solution that works by either speaking to each other or going through mediation or another type of alternative conflict resolution. Going to court might take longer, be more expensive and lead to serious legal consequences for the other parent, including fines, legal fees and even jail time.
The limitations of involving the police
If you decide to call the police to help you enforce the custody order, you need to be aware that there are limitations as to what the police can do. Police can normally only help you with things stated in the order, such as if the other parent has intentionally attempted to ignore it.
Enforcing a custody order should focus on the child’s best interests. As such, if possible, seek an amicable solution to the issue.