Violating Child Custody Orders: Should You Call The Police?

child custody enforcementBy Daniel Exner

Milwaukee Divorce Lawyer

When your ex-wife violates the child custody or visitation order and denies your parenting time, many divorced dads wonder if they should immediately call the local police.

Unfortunately, enforcement of a divorce decree sometimes depends on the attitude of your local law enforcement.

In general, there are two ways to enforce a child custody or visitation order: with police intervention or through the court with a Motion to Enforce.

A court order that mandates or prohibits conduct is typically executable through the police. For example, orders to arrest, seize property, or for injunctions, depend on law enforcement agencies to be effective. Orders for parenting time carry the same court authority and therefore are technically enforceable by the police.

There is, however, a disconnect between theory and practice. In many cases, police officers might be unwilling to get involved in a family law dispute unless the conduct rises to a criminal infraction (i.e. child abuse or parental kidnapping).

The police may tell you to take it up with the court. If an officer is willing to help, he may call the opposing party and demand compliance or escort you to pick up the children.

If the police are unwilling to get involved, you can always file a Motion to Enforce with the court. A Motion to Enforce tells the court that the opposing party has failed to comply with the child custody order and is unreasonably denying you visitation

Read Related Articles:

Enforcement Of Divorce Decrees

Motions to Enforce are conceptually similar to Contempt Motions except they must be heard within 30 days by law, at least where I practice. At an enforcement hearing, you can ask the court to:

1) reaffirm the placement schedule;

2) award you make-up days for the lost parenting time; and

3) order the opposing party to pay your attorney fees and/or court costs.


divorce lawyer Daniel ExnerCordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide. To schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney, including Milwaukee Divorce Lawyer Daniel Exner, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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63 Comments on "Violating Child Custody Orders: Should You Call The Police?"

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L.J. Burke
1 month 6 days ago
Being a police officer and a divorced dad I can give some advise. Fist and foremost do what’s best for your kids. Don’t play power trips with your ex. There is lots of grey in the law when it comes to this subject. Most of the time these problems occur when you are going through your divorce or are newly divorced. If your ex or soon to be ex violates the court orders, make sure you document all of the particulars and notify your lawyer as soon as practically possible. If you do call the police make sure you have… Read more »
1 month 25 days ago
I have a question. I am a single mom who has made sure that I follow all the placements in the custodial order. I give additional accommodated days and try to work out a reasonable schedule . he then does not return her, he removes her from school during his non placement time and keeps her for 3 to 4 days( no knowledge of where she is staying) . he has kept her out of state for 2 weeks and is constantly late in bring her back from placement, also please keep in Mind he does not live in the… Read more »
Jay mo
3 months 11 days ago

My wife’s baby daddy ignored her calls so she wasn’t able to talk to her daughter what should I do? There’s court ordered papers and she can only call between 8am to 8pm….

Sean R.
3 months 12 days ago
My ex wife and I were divorced a little more than 6 years ago, she was granted primary custody and I was granted secondary custody. Our custody order is I get to see my two young boys every other weekend. Just over two years ago my ex came to me and said she would like to do one week on, and one week off with the kids and in exchange she would have the child support halted. So for the past two years we have shared custody one week on and one week off. Unfortunately, I never went back to… Read more »
L.J. Burke
3 months 21 days ago
I am a police officer and a divorced dad. I truly dread going to these calls. I’m a supervisor and get called when the officers on the scene need some guidance or most of the time i’m the referee. Most of these calls occur when the parties are going through the divorce process and tensions are running very high. My advise is this; Make sure you have all of your documentation on hand. Whoever has the proper paperwork on them usually will prevail. Document everything about the incident, times, witnesses the officers on the scene etc. if your soon to… Read more »
4 months 14 days ago

As a country we need to work to change how child custody works.. This article is highlighting one of many issues that we have with our current child custody laws. The custodial parent can deny visitation if even there is a court order which states that the non custodial parent can have visitation and there are no consequences for CONTEMPT OF COURT. Gotta love the double standard here…smh

“Unfortunately, enforcement of a divorce decree sometimes depends on the attitude of your local law enforcement.”

4 months 28 days ago
Hi my name is coralys I’m 28 years old and have a one and a half year old daughter. Me and my child’s father was together for 3 years lives ng in the same household with our child. There were many incciedents between us such as argueing and him putting his hands on me and still remain by his side for the sake of our kids. In one occasion we got into arguement and moved out of his house told him I was leaving to Florida to be by my family side. He went to family court and file a… Read more »
joanna guidi
1 month 2 days ago

you can file a motion to get her back and everytime he puts his hands on you make a police report filing assault charges against him so many of them can turn into prison time or a felony and you should have never went back to ny I made that mistake with my nine year old

5 months 3 days ago
Ok i need help asap . im at the point in my life where my daughter is under my custody but try so hard to keep my family alive. Bad choice i know. Here why and at this piont i dont want to do the wrong thing. So here goes . my daughter mother veronica k. Bennett lost custody of trinity amor whittington in court back in 08/2015. It was me or acs so as a real father and a family man i step up as dad. Now things was rocky all through the battle . i still let her… Read more »
5 months 9 days ago
My neighbor who is a divorce dad has a daughter that was taken out of the state a number of months ago. The mother wrote a letter to my friend and told him that she and his daughter were going to California because the mothers aging father was ill. She said it was not permanent but it has now been almost a year. My neighbor is on disability and is not financially able to hire an attorney. I am trying to help him fill out a motion to enforce their child custody agreement that was put in place when he… Read more »
5 months 13 days ago
In the past few months I have gone from 50/50 everything to 3 days a month and no desision making. While the case is still going I found that my ex wife had been bringing a convicted drug felon near my kids. Twice she was warned by the judge about him and now she is blaming me for all of financial problems because he was all but ordered to never return by the Sheriff. I also learned that she was planing to abscond with the children to another state until this happened. She’s been charged with child abandonment and found… Read more »