By Daniel Exner
Unfortunately, enforcement of a divorce decree sometimes depends on the attitude of your local law enforcement and filing a police report for a custody violation doesn’t always lead to a resolution. Even after the report is filed, many dads are still left wondering how to get the child back from the non-custodial parent.
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 filing a police report for a custody violation doesn’t work, 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
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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.
If you have any questions about filing a police report for a custody violation or how to get your child back from the non-custodial parent, get in touch with a men’s divorce attorney and they can help you figure out what steps you need to take.
Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide. To schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney, please contact Cordell & Cordell.