Enforcing a Parenting Plan

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What Should I Do If My Ex Violates A Parenting Plan?

It’s often difficult to remain part of your child’s life after a divorce or breakup. One thing that helps ensure you’re able to do this is the parenting plan. This document lays out all the specifics of custody, visitation, holidays, and all the other schedule issues. But what if your ex won’t follow the rules? How can you enforce a parenting plan?

This is a common question. Fortunately, a parenting plan is a court order, so you have legal recourse when it comes to enforcement.

What is a Parenting Plan?

Parenting plans often form a part of divorce agreements, but they’re also necessary for parents who never married. These are official, court-ordered documents that outline the custody arrangement between parents.

Parenting plans cover everything. This includes where the child lives, which parent has decision making power, how parents settle disputes, and more. They even address things like transportation and exchanges of the child.

Parenting plans are the cornerstone of your custody arrangement. If one party violates the agreement, knowing what to do will help you protect your relationship with your child. And because they are legal documents, they do have legal backing.

How to Enforce a Parenting Plan

Once in place, both parents are legally obligated to honor a parenting plan. That’s all well and good, but too often, people refuse to follow the program. There are times when you must turn to legal means to get the other parent to adhere to the schedule.

In Oregon, the courts expect compliance with the parenting plan. When one party violates the agreement the other may need to go to the court to pursue a remedy. The first step in enforcing your parenting plan is to file a motion seeking enforcement with the court.

Once you file this motion, the court will conduct a hearing no more than 45 days after the filing. Unless both parties agree to other terms. The court then reviews the motion to determine if a violation has indeed occurred. 

Just to be clear, enforcement proceedings can be long, expensive, and time-consuming. They’re most often of use in flagrant cases or cases where a person habitually ignores the parenting plan. We’re not talking about situations where your ex is late dropping off your son once or twice.

Related Reading: Enforcement Proceedings and Protecting Parental Rights

Three Most Common Outcomes

There are three common outcomes to this type of enforcement proceeding. They are:

  • The judge finds there was no violation and no further action is taken,
  • The parenting plan was violated, but with good reason and no remedy is required,
  • The parenting plan was violated and a remedy is ordered.

The consequences of violating a parenting plan vary depending on the severity of the infraction. In relatively minor cases, the court may do something like allot one parent additional time to make up for lost time with the child.

On the more severe side, the court may find it necessary to order a hearing to modify the entire custody arrangement. They can also add new terms to the parenting plan, order counseling or parenting classes, suspend child support, even order the offending parent to pay the other’s court and attorney fees.

Enforcing a parenting plan can be a complicated process. Like most legal matters, it tends to become a long, complex affair. If you have questions about your case or think you may need to turn to legal means to get your ex to adhere to the plan, it’s in your best interest to speak to a family law attorney. An experienced professional should be able to assess your unique situation, let you know if you have an argument, and address the specifics of your case.

Related Reading: What is a Status Quo Order?

Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of an earlier post and has been revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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