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What can one do when a child custody order is not being followed?

Honoring a child custody order in Rhode Island may seem simple enough on paper, but may not be so simple in real life. After all, parents are often in conflict both before the divorce and after, and this conflict can manifest itself in negative ways that ultimately impact the well-being of the child, particularly when it comes to child custody.

For example, a parent may fail to adhere to the child custody and visitation order. Perhaps that parent is consistently late when it comes time to pick the child up from the other parent or drop the child off. What can be done when such interference happens?

First of all, while it may be tempting, do not withhold child support in order to get back at the other parent for failing to follow the child custody and visitation order. Legally, child support and child custody are two different things. If a parent fails to pay his or her court-ordered child support it could even result in a loss of visitation time.

Instead, parents in such situations should try to have a conversation about the reasons why one or the other is not following the child custody and visitation order. For example, sometimes a parent's job or other obligations are affecting his or her ability to follow the order. It may be possible for parents to work out an alternative schedule that accommodates the needs of each of them.

If parents cannot come to an agreement on their own, they could take the matter to court. It can help to keep a record of the instances in which the order was not being followed. Keep in mind that the court may be more concerned with how the parent's failure to follow the order impacts the child, rather than with the inconvenience such a failure causes the other parent.

Rhode Island parents who were once married but are now divorced still share a vested interest in the well-being of their child. The court also recognizes this interest, and will craft a child custody and visitation schedule that meets the best interests of the child. It is important to comply fully with such orders. If a parent fails to do so, it may be necessary to seek legal help to learn what to do in such situations, since this post cannot be interpreted as legal advice.

Source: FindLaw, "Custody or Visitation Interference," Accessed Nov. 9, 2015

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