Police enforcement of a custody order often depends on an individual officer’s discretion. That assistance may not be forthcoming. Law enforcement involvement should be requested as a last resort. Before considering this final and uncertain option, let’s examine the background behind a child custody order and the steps needed to keep matters under control.
Usually, finalizing a divorce decree should help people start a new life. Finalizing makes it easy for all parties involved to know where they stand and what they should do following the separation. However, some people don’t honor divorce terms.
If the divorce involves a child, some parents may fail or refuse to follow child custody terms. This can leave the primary custodial parent and the child in a difficult financial situation. Fortunately, there are several ways to enforce a custody order if you’re in Colorado. As to the police, their involvement may depend on the possibility of imminent danger or on their own evaluation of the case.
If Your Ex-Partner Refuses to Honor Visitation Terms
Before getting the police involved, you must understand how to deal with an inobedient ex-partner. There are several things you can do before calling law enforcement. If your ex-partner does not honor visitation orders, then you can file for contempt of court. Generally, a lawyer will tell you to submit a “motion to enforce parenting time” according to the C.R.S. 14-10-129.5.
Take note that the court prioritizes enforcing parenting time so that it can be dealt with expeditiously. Aside from helping you get make-up parenting time, it is also possible for the court to modify the visitation order, impose other types of remedies to prevent the problem from happening again and even order attorney fees. Likewise, the court can also ask the primary custodial parent to post a financial bond with it. If he or she violates the visitation order, then they forfeit the bond. Court orders must be followed and anyone not upholding the court’s decision over parenting time can run into a lot of trouble.
Specifically, if the primary custodial parent refuses you visitation, the first step is to contact him or her – preferably in writing like an email. Messaging your ex-partner in writing will not only help you request makeup time, but it can document when and for how long the violation took place. Depending on the extent of the breach, you can then file a motion to enforce parenting time. For example, if a holiday came up and you lost a considerable block of time because your partner refused your visitation, then you can file as quickly as possible. If, however, you only got denied for an overnight schedule or a weekend trip then you may need to hold it off until the violations become substantial or frequent. If the violation ceases, then you can hold off in filing the motion. Unless future violations occur, then past breaches can be included in your present motion. Every case can be different; that’s why it pays to consult a lawyer.
As mentioned, the court can order make-up parenting time. Usually, the make-up time will mirror or be like the nature and duration of the original schedule violated. For example, if your partner refused you visitation on a holiday, then the make-up time should also be a holiday.
What the Police Can Do
During agreement violations, it may make sense to ask whether police intervention is necessary. Technically, the police cannot do anything unless there is an evident danger. Law enforcement does not automatically become involved following a visitation court order violation.
Aside from obvious danger, the police can also intervene if a court order violation leads to a criminal infraction like parental kidnapping or child abuse. Unless there are other court orders to be followed, police intervention may still vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. This also comes down to the discretion of the police. For example, an officer may be willing to talk to a parent violating the visitation order. They may ask the person to cooperate and hand over the child peacefully.
In some places, however, the line of response is “it’s a civil matter.” Again, it depends on the situation. it is best to consult with a lawyer to make sure you proceed with the matter legally. The last thing you want to do is to breach an agreement while in the middle of reporting a violation. Goldman Law has a team of lawyers who has the skills and experience to assist you in ensuring that all parties follow the terms in your custody agreement.