Child custody agreements will be strictly enforced in Pennsylvania, with offending parties possibly being held in contempt for not following them.
Many find they need to pursue a court order to enforce a custody agreement when the other parent refuses to cooperate. When an informal custody arrangement is made between two parents, the terms are not enforceable by a judge. A custody order, on the other hand, is legally binding, and those not adhering to its terms can be found in contempt. For example, one parent might refuse to pay child support or keep the child longer than the allotted visitation period. If the details of the agreement are not being adhered to, one party can compel cooperation by threatening additional legal action.
Our Pittsburgh custody lawyers at Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC understand the difficulty that can arise when one party refuses to stick to the plan. If necessary, Anthony Piccirilli can help you petition for a court order that will force the other party to adhere to the terms of your child custody agreement.
Call (412) 471-5100 now to see how your parental rights can be protected.
Violating Custody Orders
In Pennsylvania, violating a court order is taken very seriously, especially when it involves the details outlined in a child custody agreement. In many cases, the violation can be serious enough to warrant granting full custody to the non-interfering party. One common custody violation is preventing visitation with another party. Making the child unavailable is often accomplished by scheduling activities or trips that conflict with the visitation schedule. For this to be a true violation of a court order, preventing visitation must be a consistent issue and not just a one-time occurrence.
Interfering with parent-child communication is another way to violate the conditions of a custody order. While this can involve cutting off contact entirely, more commonly it takes the form of one party intercepting emails or blocking phone calls. Contrary to popular belief, one party’s failure to pay child support does not validate the other party to deny visitation. While refusing to make child support payments can be grounds for pursuing legal action, not allowing the child to visit with the other party can result in separate consequences.
Filing a Contempt Petition
When the terms of a legal custody agreement are violated, a party can file a Petition for Contempt with the court. This petition requests that the court hold the non-complying parent in contempt, meaning that the party has violated a court order. While child custody cannot be changed during a contempt hearing, other punishments can be issued. Depending on the circumstances, the interfering parent may be sentenced to pay fines or even spend time behind bars. Other sanctions that can be imposed as a result of a violation include, but are not limited to:
- Forcing the parent found in contempt to attend parenting classes
- Ordering that the lost visitation time be made up at a later date
- Forcing the interfering parent to cover the other party’s legal costs, such as attorney’s fees and transportation expenses
How Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC Can Help
If one of the parties to your custody order has committed a violation, you may want them to face consequences for their actions. The time spent with your child is precious, and anyone who intentionally hinders your relationship should be held accountable.
Our Pittsburgh custody lawyers at Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC know that an interfering parent can uproot everything you have worked so hard to establish. Anthony Piccirilli can guide you through the process of filing a Petition for Contempt and ensure that the appropriate evidence is presented. He has fought for the parental rights of countless good people and knows how to navigate the local court system.
Call (412) 471-5100 now to take the first step in protecting the relationship between you and your child.