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Enforcing Parenting Orders: What to Do When the Other Parent Doesn’t Comply

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What Steps Should You Take if the Other Parent is Not Honoring the Terms of Your Parenting Order?

Navigating the trials of co-parenting following your divorce can be challenging. It is not uncommon for former spouses to have disagreements about their parental responsibilities, the extent of their parenting time, or how their child should be raised. The difficulties can be compounded if the exes have a contentious relationship and cannot communicate effectively.

For couples who are unable to come to an agreement on the details of their parenting arrangement during the divorce process, the court will create a parenting order. This order is crafted with the child’s best interests in mind and addresses the topics of decision-making responsibilities, parenting time, and contact. Unfortunately, one parent sometimes refuses to comply with the court order. If you are struggling to get your child’s other parent to follow the terms of your parenting order, an Ontario modification and enforcement lawyer can explain your legal rights and guide you through the potential remedies for your situation. 

Are There Resolution Options That Do Not Involve the Courts?

At times, a parent may be hesitant to address noncompliance with a parenting order because they do not wish to become involved in a drawn-out legal battle. However, addressing the issue as soon as possible is critical to ensure your rights are protected. If you allow the situation to continue for an extended period, the court may take that as a sign that you implicitly agree to the changes, and you could face challenges getting the court to enforce the original terms of your order.

One of the initial methods you may utilize to resolve the violation of your parenting order is bringing the issue to your ex’s attention and attempting to fix it informally. In some cases, this could be enough to eliminate the problem. Keep records of these interactions in case further measures are necessary.

If you cannot communicate with your ex, they continue to refuse to honor the terms of the court order, or you believe your child’s well-being is at risk, you should immediately inform your lawyer of the noncompliance. Your lawyer can advise you on other resolution methods that may be appropriate for your circumstances. Some common solutions to parenting order disputes that don’t involve court intervention include arbitration, mediation, and other varieties of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

How Do You Seek Enforcement of the Order Through the Courts?

If one parent continually refuses to follow the terms of the parenting order, it may become necessary to bring the matter before the court. Examples of parenting order violations can include:

  • Not allowing the other parent their allotted parenting time.
  • Making unilateral decisions for the child on topics where the other parent has been granted decision-making rights, such as health care or education.
  • Inappropriately limiting contact with the other parent through phone calls, letters, or other means.
  • Consistently acting in any manner that goes against the terms of the court order or could cause harm to the child.

The first step in rectifying this situation through the legal system is filing a motion with the court. This process may feel daunting and complex if you are unfamiliar with court procedures. Your lawyer can assist you with gathering evidence of the noncompliance, filling out the correct forms and filing them with the court, and serving the other parent with notice of the motion.

What Happens After You File a Motion?

A hearing will be scheduled after you file your motion. During the hearing, you and the other parent will have the opportunity to present your evidence and arguments before the judge. The judge will then determine the most appropriate way to resolve the issue. Remember that you can always negotiate your own resolution before or during the court process. A lawyer who is a trained mediator may be able to help you reach an agreement faster and with less hassle than pursuing a court-based solution.

What Are the Possible Outcomes in Your Custody Enforcement Case?

The result of your court proceedings will depend heavily on the nature of your ex’s noncompliance and the details of your case. If the judge finds that the other parent has failed to comply with the court order, that parent may be held in contempt of court. The judge must decide the best method to ensure future adherence to the order. In some cases, the noncompliant parent could even face penalties for their actions, including imprisonment and fines.

In other scenarios, the judge may find it in the child’s best interests to modify the original parenting order to suit the situation better. The exact modifications will be based on the needs of the child, any changes that have occurred in both parents’ lives, and other relevant factors. For instance, if the parents cannot agree on important decisions, the judge may modify the parenting order to give decision-making responsibilities for some or all topics to one parent. However, because the order could also potentially be modified to allow the other parent’s current actions, such as having more parenting time, it is vital to enlist the services of a family law lawyer who will fight vigorously for your rights.

How Can Our Skilled Lawyers Assist You?

Promptly addressing noncompliance issues with parenting orders is often key to obtaining a positive outcome. Waiting can compound the problem and cause unnecessary upheaval in your child’s life. Our experienced lawyers at Anthony Family Law can examine your case and create a tailored strategy for seeking the enforcement of your parenting order. Contact our Ontario office today at 647-933-2397 to schedule a free case evaluation to discuss your concerns and learn about your legal options.

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