When a court has issued visitation and child custody orders, parents have an obligation to follow them. When a parent does not do this, there are several options open to the other party, depending on how severe the outstanding issues are. Mothers can face serious consequences including a jail sentence, the payment of attorney fees and maybe even the loss of any custodial rights, should the mother violate the rights of a father. Read on to learn more about this important subject that can have a huge impact of the lives of families.
Custody Violations and Custody Decisions
There are several types of custody a court can make but in essence they are dealing with the assignation of child custody to one or both parental parties. Popular custody types include:
- Primary Custodial Parenting Time– the child or children resides with only one of the parents
- Sole Legal Decision Making– one parent has the complete responsibility for the welfare, health and education of the child or children
- Joint and Equal Parenting Time – both parties have large amounts of physical visitation with their child or children
- Joint Legal Decision Making – both parents share equal responsibility for the decisions regarding a child or children’s welfare, health and education
A mother can face an accusation of violating the rights of a father if she does not uphold her court-mandated responsibilities to the child or children, or if she decides to interfere with the ability of the father by making it difficult or impossible for him to invoke his custodial rights. Courts view paternal rights very seriously including the rights a father has to be a co-parent in the raising of his child or children. Judges tend to reject a parent’s credibility when one parent purposefully or even accidentally interferes with the responsibilities and rights of the other party or acts as a damaging influence in the relationship a parent has with their child or children.
Parents’ parenting time rights are shared via written court orders including the times and dates when a parent may invoke custody rights. The court order may be more specific and clearly make a determination regarding child transportation and locations where the kids can be collected at the start and end of a visitation. Both parents are strongly urged to stick to the mandated court schedule yet remain flexible to accommodate reasonable needs of the other parent. When the court ordered schedule is deviated against your wishes for multiple weeks or months, it is usually best to head back to court and have a legal modification completed to the court order. If a new schedule has been verbally agreed by the parents and the mother then commit a violation of said schedule, the father may be in a position whereby he is not able to obtain the legal enforcement of the previously stated verbal agreement.
Can A Mother Violate The Rights Of A Father?
Here are some of the common ways a mother can violate a fathers’ rights:
- Mother’s unilateral scheduling of activities during Father’s custodial parenting time, thereby making it impossible for father to be able to spend time with his child or children to the extent allowed under the terms of the court ordered visitation schedule;
- Encourages others or takes part in ridiculing the father with the purpose of discrediting the father and his relationship with his child or children;
- Without permission or agreement with the father, takes the child or children and permanently moves them to an out of state location;
- Uses the child or children as a message boy or girl to the father or involving the child or children in any issues regarding divorce proceedings or custody issues with a goal of disturbing the time a father has with his child or children;
- Does not co-parent with the father of the child or children;
- When the father is behind on child support, the mother denies him access to the child or children;
- Mother does not adhere to an established schedule and frequently has the father waiting on her to deliver or collect the child or children;
- The mother neglects to include and involve the father of the child or children when he has joint custody in making decisions regarding the upbringing of the child or children; and
- Subjects the father to accusations of child neglect and/or abuse of his child or children despite knowing what she is saying is false.
Recourse When a Mother Violates The Rights Of A Father
The first thing a father should attempt is communication with mother but not when a restraining order against you is not already in place. If this is the case, you need to speak to a family law attorney without delay to initiate conversation with the attorney of the other party. It will be of great benefit to keep a documented record of the times, dates and methods used by the mother whenever a violation of your rights has occurred. Should the mother make a decision to continue with the violation of your visitation or custody rights, you can call the local police department and they have the means to enforce the orders of the court. If the mother refuses you access to your child or children, help can be obtained from the local district attorney’s Child Abduction Unit. And of course, you should let your attorney know about any involvement of law enforcement in the scenario you are facing.
If you desire, a contempt court action can be filed by your attorney against the mother of your child or children. A contempt hearing can then be scheduled and a Judge will make a determination if the mother is indeed in violation of the established court custodial orders. If this is found to be the case, the court can do some or indeed all of the following in their judgment:
- Permit the father additional visitation rights to his child or children by making a change to the established custody order;
- Grant the father primary physical custody of the child or children, thereby again changing the established custody order;
- Change the custody order to give the father sole legal custody;
- Make an order where the mother can only have visitation which is limited to “supervised visits”;
- Impose a jail sentence or fines on the mother for contempt of court; and
- As the father had to bring the contempt of court action, the judge may decide the mother is responsible for the legal fees of the father.
Source: Wallin, Paul. “Consequences Mothers Face for Violating Father’s Rights: WK.” Wkfamilylaw, 17 Dec. 2018, https://www.wkfamilylaw.com/consequences-mothers-face-violating-fathers-rights/.
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