Contempt Of Court for Parenting Time Violations

As a family law lawyer, I am always surprised how casually some parents take a parenting plan. We hear a lot of stories about the other parent disregarding terms of the parenting plan.  We hear complaints of the other parent returning the children late, failing to return items of clothing, or denying holiday or summer parenting time.   Failure to comply with parenting time orders can carry serious consequences if the other parent takes enforcement action after a willful violation of the parenting plan.  One of the most serious enforcement remedies available for parenting plan violations is “contempt of court.”  Parenting time orders are orders made by the court with the court’s authority.   Willful disobedience of, resistance to, or obstruction of the court’s authority, process, order, or judgment is subject to a contempt motion.  

Private attorneys and parties can bring “remedial” contempt actions for willful parenting plan violations.  A remedial action is the court using its authority to remedy, or fix the non-compliance. A broad range of sanctions are available to get a parent to comply with the parenting plan.  ORS 33.105 specifies what sanctions are available in a contempt action.  Unless there is a contrary statute, the court can impose one or more of the following remedial sanctions:

  1. Payment of a sum of money sufficient to compensate a party for loss, injury or costs suffered by the party as the result of a contempt of court.
  2. Confinement for so long as the contempt continues, or six months, whichever is the shorter period.
  3. An amount not to exceed $500 or one percent of the defendant’s annual gross income, whichever is greater, for each day the contempt of court continues. The sanction imposed under this paragraph may be imposed as a fine or to compensate a party for the effects of the continuing contempt.
  4. An order designed to insure compliance with a prior order of the court, including probation.
  5. Payment of all or part of any attorney fees incurred by a party as the result of a contempt of court.
  6. A sanction other than the sanctions specified in paragraphs (a) to (e) of this subsection if the court determines that the sanction would be an effective remedy for the contempt.

Basically the court has the power to craft any remedy, including jail, to encourage compliance with a court order. 

Liability for contempt can extend even beyond the parties. Third parties that interfere with parenting time orders may be held accountable through contempt.

What to do to avoid a contempt action? When your case is complete, get and retain a copy of your parenting plan.  Read it.  Know what it says.  If you can, communicate with the other parent about parenting time to make sure you are on the same page.  If you want to change the parenting plan and the other parent agrees, confirm the agreement in writing or email.  Don’t unilaterally disregard the parenting plan. What to do if you are served with a contempt action?  Talk to an experienced family law lawyer and get help.  What to do if the other parent won’t follow the parenting plan? Talk to an experienced family law lawyer about what remedies you may have.

About Sean Stephens

By Sean Stephens Google + Sean Stephens is divorce and family law lawyer, and a founding member of Stephens & Margolin LLP He was born in Eugene, Oregon and is a fourth generation Oregonian. Sean Stephens attended the University of Oregon, and graduated in with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, with a minor in English Literature. His psychology studies emphasized early childhood development. You can find more about Sean Stephens at Stephens & Margolin LLP Follow him
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103 Responses to Contempt Of Court for Parenting Time Violations

  1. david says:

    my name is david and my mother inlaw is not following the court order it states in ther that my visits are to be in her home and she dicide with the lawyer to do a thirdparty visitation center with out taking it back to court and she has olso told me tomany excuses why i cant go and see my daughter so what can i do and is there any thing i can do to get my daughter home in my and my wife custody

  2. Mary says:

    Can the parent that needs to force the other parent violating the parenting order of the judge file the contempt charge on their own and what forms do they need?

    Thank You

    Mary

    • admin says:

      Mary:

      While using a lawyer can be of great help on a family law case, there is no requirement that you use one. Many counties have facilitators that can help unrepresented parties with forms. The facilitators however cannot provide legal advice.

  3. kristi says:

    What if you have an attorney, have a court date set to modify parenting plan, and feel there is abuse going on. My child is terrified now to go with his father. He screams and cries and hangs on to me for dear life. My child is 3 1/2 years old. He never use to be this way. He tells all of us that his dad’s girlfriend and kids are mean to him. What do I do. I can’t wait for court date?? help and desperate!

    • admin says:

      Kristi:

      You should talk to your lawyer immediately to see if there are other legal options available before your current court date.

  4. kristi says:

    My Attorney is on vacation until 12-14….my court date is 12-15. I am now in contempt of court, because I refused to allow my son to go with his father on his court set days. My son was crying so hard that he vomitted and wet his pants because he didn’t want to go. My son is scared to death. Do you have any advice before my attorney gets back.

  5. Angela says:

    I am curious, is it considered a violation of the parenting plan if the parent refuses to take the child at all? The custody is split 50/50, yet phone calls and trying to schedule any time with the other parent is a nightmare. They are avoiding any conversation related to taking the child. This has resulted in increased costs for daycare for the child and more a financial burden on myself. I do not want child support I actually want them to spend time with the child, but I am not sure what to make sure that it happens or begin recieving child support if they still refuse time with the child.

    Thank you

    • admin says:

      A party only violates the parenting plan if they refuse to follow the plan. Where the other parent refuses to exercise his/her parenting time, the other parent is not engaging in behavior that will subject he/she to contempt or enforcement of parenting time sanctions. In your situation, you also cannot file a motion for enforcement of parenting plan claiming that they are violating the parenting plan by not exercising their time. The better method would be to proceed with a modification of the parenting plan and support figures to both properly mirror real life and to provide you with more funds to take care of the child.

  6. Suzanne says:

    My children are 15 and 17. Our parenting plan has never been followed seriously for 7 years, allowing flexibility for all. Now, after several very negative situations, the kids no longer want to stay with their dad. They want to live at one house and just spend other quality time with their father. Am I in contempt if I do not force them to go?

    • admin says:

      There are potentially serious consequences for not following a parenting plan, including fines, paying the other side’s legal fees, and even jail time. If you want to change the parenting plan and the other parent will not do it voluntarily, or in mediation, modifying the plan is your best option. While an older child’s refusal to go for parenting time may be a defense to a contempt action, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney about your options, and in the iterim follow the parenting plan until it gets changed.

  7. Clarifications says:

    Angela – I am in the same situation as you and have been heavily researching my options on Contempt of Court charges as well as Parenting Time Enforcement options. If you look at http://courts.oregon.gov/OJD/docs/OSCA/cpsd/courtimprovement/familylaw/ParentingPlanEnforcement-BROCHURE-2000.pdf pay attention to question number 22. It indicates that either parent may go through this procedure, you just have to prove that it is “substantial.” Here are the instructions: http://www.oregon.gov/OJD/docs/OSCA/cpsd/courtimprovement/familylaw/umaenforcementinstructions.pdf. And the forms are here: http://www.ojd.state.or.us/lan/documents/Packet%205A07.pdf.

    My daughters father stopped seeing her almost a year ago. I have been pleaing with him and his wife to keep their time, but they refuse. They recently had a baby and have lost interest. My daughter wants to see her father, but he gives every excuse in the book to not show up. Breaks my heart to see her hurt and when he calls (6 times so far) he just tells her that it’s my fault. Anyway, it’s a much longer story than that, but I’d thought I’d share the research I’ve done on enforcement options. I am still trying to decide what to do to advocate for my daughter.

    • admin says:

      Jennifer: the links you provided are great self help resources. However, in my experience as a family law lawyer in Oregon, the court will not use it’s contempt power to punish a parent that takes less time than they were provided in the parenting plan. The court can modify the parenting plan to have the wirtten plan reflect the actual time being used.

  8. Abigail says:

    My step kids are 11 and 8 and refuse to see their biological mother. See has only seen them sporadically over the last 6 years, not sticking to the parenting plan AT ALL and now they refuse to leave with her, last time they jumped out of her car and ran back in the house. She has also not paid child support in almost a year. She is now threatening us with contempt charges since the children refuse to go with her, even after we told her to go ahead and show up! We are at a loss at how to deal with this situation, any advice?

    • admin says:

      You should consult with an experienced family law lawyer immediately. Contempt has to be willful on a parent’s part. An older child that refuse to go with a parent may be a defense, but there is a lot of risk in court for an 8 and 11 year old refusing to go, because the court may think the children are taking their cues from you. You should talk in your consult about getting counseling for the kids, or potentially a children’s attorney appointed.

  9. Lynn says:

    I married my husband 4 years ago and have been with him for 5. I have a daughter 11 and he has two children 11 and 9 from his previous marriage. They divorced 6 years ago and just recently (3 months) I have noticed the kids have been lying to their mother about things that I have done, like badgering them about rules and chores and hitting their hands for doing something wrong…which I don’t do! My husband went to pick up his kids today at his normal time where the ex informed him that she has scheduled them for couseling to start the 2nd and that until that is figured out, she will not let him see or speak to his kids. He did contact the police and made a report per DOA advise. I know we need to contact an attorney, which we plan on meeting with Monday….my question is, I know she is trying to gather info against me to use against him. You wouldn’t believe the allegations! This is a women who after 11 years through him out and divorced him cause she wasn’t happy. Now after 5 years, why is she doing all this with no reason? THANKS!

  10. Charley says:

    Admin: You said, “In your situation, you also cannot file a motion for enforcement of parenting plan claiming that they are violating the parenting plan by not exercising their time.”

    That’s not true, according to The ODJ website. http://www.ojd.state.or.us/GRA/home.nsf/pages/FAQ

    22. Can a parent who has custody use this enforcement process if the other parent does not follow a parenting time court order?

    Yes. Either parent may start this court and mediation process by filing the forms available at the courthouse.

    • admin says:

      You misunderstood the quoted comment. Either parent regarless of whether he or she is the parent with “legal custody” can utilize the enforcement of parenting time process. The quote that you are referencing came in response to a comment about forcing the other parent to use his/her parenting time. The court will not take action to force the other parent to follow the parenting plan when they are not using their time. In that situation the proper filing would be to modify the parenting plan to reflect what is in the children’s best interest and to reflect the actual time each parent is spending with the children. I hope this clears up any confusion.

  11. Rachel says:

    Last week my 13 year-old step-daughter called her father last week and told him that she would be going to her grandmother’s (mom’s mom) house for his scheduled weekend and that it was “her right to choose” and basically there was nothing he could do about it. He put a phone call in to his ex-wife a few days later to see if he could take her the following weekend and got no response from her at all. Then, the daughter called my husband and left a message telling him that she no longer wants to see him or speak to him. This comes after he spoke to her about her grades–she’s failing 5 classes in her mother’s care. As written in the divorce decree he has the right to every other weekend, every other holiday and 2 weeks in the summer. I don’t know that there is even a parenting plan in their case. His daughter just left a message on his phone saying this and that his ex-wife is “getting a lawyer” and that she “just wants it to go SMOOTHLY…” This kind of came out of nowhere for us and we’re not sure where to go from here. What do we do?

    • admin says:

      You should talk to an experienced family law attorney immediately. You don’t want the ex’s new parenting plan to become the new status quo, and prompt action is needed.

  12. Andrew says:

    My Parenting Plan states that I must persue “future disputes regarding the parenting plan” through mediation. Further that “Mediation regarding parenting/scheduling issues must first be persued prior to and pleadings”.

    Does this mean I have no recourse for pressing Contempt of Court other than mediation?

    • admin says:

      In order to fully answer your question you would need to have an attorney review the full judgment form. Some judgments have the language you describe with a provision that the clause does not apply to emergencies, including enforcement of the parenting plan. In any event it is easy to schedule mediation through your local county and have it completely very quickly.

  13. Damarise says:

    Can the parent with full custody file a contempt of court preceding against the other parent for child support arrears? He is in the military and is in excess of $6,000 of arrears.

    • admin says:

      Special rules apply when a parent / obligor is in the military, and you should consult with a family law lawyer who is familiar with military law.

  14. Alexis says:

    I am the custodial parent and for the last 18 months my ex-husband has been homeless, refusing to give me the address’ of where he is staying when he stays with family and friends and has not asked for any weekend visitation. We have never denied him any visitation time, he has simply not asked for it. He decided he wants to take us to court for contempt when the DA told him that they were going to suspend his ODL for contempt of court as he owes just over $2800.00 in Child Support arrears.
    He claimed “hardship” and requested a re-calculation stating that he couldn’t find work and then was later denied that re-calculation as he never turned over the necessary records.
    We are at a loss here, he has been homeless and hasn’t requested the time with her for over 18 months. Whatever time he does request (about 4 hours a month) he gets with no question. regardless of day or time.
    What are our options here?

  15. Cherise says:

    Ten days ago my fiance and his ex-wife went to court because she petitioned to modify the final divorce decree. They originally had joint custody but she wanted sole custody. The judge approved the modification and he now only has parenting for a few hours every wednesday, every other weekend and then phone calls every week night. Last weekend she showed up two hours late to drop the kids off for his first weekend visit and she has not answered the phone once this entire week. He understands that it is not convenient to talk to the kids every night, but she even emailed him on Thursday and stated that the kids looked forward to speaking to him on the phone “tonight and tomorrow night.” However, she did not answer when he called either night and they did not call him back. Also in her email she informed him that they will be out of town next week so he will not be able to see or talk to his children for the next ten days. She has a history of not following the custody agreement and disrupting parenting time. What is the appropriate action in this situation? Is it too soon to file for contempt of court and/or enforcement of parenting time order?

  16. Signe Escalante says:

    My daughter is unable to see her children every other weekend as laid out by the parenting plan. She is required to work weekends at her job at Macy’s. She has a variable schedule at work and is going to school for her degree to find a job. Her exhusband will not work with her schedule and insists that she adhere to the parenting plan. Can she be held in contempt of court. She does not have money for babysitting and needs the job to live and pay child support. She loves her children. Her husband refuses to let her see the kids on days she has available. Will she be held in contempt of court. Her husband and his girlfriend constantly harass and threaten her with this.

  17. Jessica says:

    I have a 12 year old child with my ex, we never married. I gave my ex custody of my child around 8 years ago and we agreed upon a generic parenting plan. My ex got married about 4 years ago and it has been a nightmare ever since. His wife is very combative toward me and hates me. They have belittled, slandered, and insulted me to my child for four years. I believe this has had a terrible psychological effect on my child and my child has since become to hate me. I decided to separate myself from situation because of the constant battling from all of them and I haven’t seen my child in over a year. I am not sure what to do. I love my child and what to see him, but I think serious therapy needs to happen along with parenting time enforcement Please help!

  18. Anna says:

    I am the supervising party for my cousin and her son. they are doing over night visits at my house… my question is: If I need to pick up my child or run to the store is it ok for her to go with and her son since im the court ordered supervisor or does she have to sin in my home the entire visit becuse the order was supervised visits at my home.. Im just confused please help me to understand my role as supervising party.. thanks

  19. mike says:

    My ex- wife is leaving my 5 year old with her mother who has an open CPS case and is violating the order because I get first right of refusal and she is not safe there. Is this a contemptable offense.

  20. mike says:

    It states the other party should be considered first if the other parent is unavailable which my wife and I always are. Is theis contempt of the order?

  21. Ms. Powell says:

    My daughter father filed a restraining order against me Oct 22 We had gone to court Nov 17 a personal conduct order and child visitaion was order Temporary until how next court date which is Feb 23, 2011. Nov 23 was his first visit with our 5month old daughter and the day before that she was in the hospital she had a real bad cold..I allowed her to go with him because the court order me to do so..Prior to his visist Nov 23 he hadnt seen her in 2months. So I was already highly concern being his first child and her being sick and not being around her in 2months prior. So I emailed him she was sick and the medication she had to take..He did not reply back. So when I met him on Wed..I tried explaining to him our baby meds..and he refuse to listen walking off while I am trying to talk to him…So I walk with him to his car continuing to try and explain to him..he was being very rude and angry towards me.So that day i emailed him just to check on my baby he did not reply i called he did not answer..I pick her up on Thrsday he did not say a word to me..So his next visit was Nov 27th He did not show up and have not shown up sense. he emailed me that would not be picking her up on Sat which was the 27 of nov due to my conduct on Wed. today is December 20 I have not spoken to him nor have i seen him he do not show up at our meeting point. Nov 30 he filed another restraining order on me..it was denied..and on Dec 16 he filed another retrsiang order on me im not sure of the results.. With all that said what should I do? I continue to make reports when he doesnt show..I am keeping my paper trail..Should i file contempt of court?

    • admin says:

      Ms. Powell:

      We would have to look at the parenting plan and judgment to determine the best strategy. I would have to know more about what type of restraining order he filed. You should consult with our firm, or another experienced family law lawyer quickly.

  22. Jeanne Kash says:

    My fiance’ has had custody of his 17 year old son since he was 15. He has lived with us during this time. His mother has willfully missed 42 days of scheduled parenting time in the last eight months and usually cancels an hour or two before she must pick him up. We can’t schedule anything. Worse is the fact that her excuses, such as not being able to have him due to a “scrapbooking” class, makes his son feel really unwanted. She is doing this to “get back” at my fiance’ for some reason unknown to anyone, including my fiance’. Additionally, she has missed most of the Wednesday nights on the parenting plan and usually doesn’t even bother to contact him. She was found to have lied about her income and when discovered, increased parenting time so her child support payment was less. We have filled out the necessary forms and are ready to file. What are my fiance’s chances?

    • admin says:

      Jeanne:

      I would have to look at the original judgment, her original financial documentation, and your new documentation of her income to answer the support modification question. Regarding parenting time, courts can and do modify parenting plans to match what the parties are practicing. For example, if parents consistently don’t use the time per the parenting plan, a judge could modify the plan to reflect the time actually used. Even if the court does not modify the plan, for child support purposes, the court can still recognize the amount of time being used and calculate support based on the lower (or higher) amount of time without actually modifying the parenting plan.

  23. valerie Giles says:

    What kind of offense can be used in a contempt of court hearing for parenting time. When the attorney father is custodial parent, and the judge denies the contempt of court based on the defense that the children 9 and 12 do not want to go with the visting parent. A motion was filed for a writ of assistance and the judge denied it.
    One year ago both parents lived in the area with joint custody, 1 week on 1 week off. The mother asked the court if she could move with the children for work purposes 4 hours away, she was denied by the court to have children and moved anyway, the court changed her joint custody to sole legal custody to the father.

  24. valerie Giles says:

    the court asked at that time for the parents to come to him for a parenting time plan later. So there is a parenting plan in place.

  25. Joseph Billington says:

    My Ex wife keeps bringing friends and her family to my house to pick up kids and i tell her not to cause they don’t need to know where i live is there any laws that i can inforce to get her to stop doing it?

  26. Joseph Billington says:

    We are in oregon

  27. Melanie says:

    I have a question. Biological Father was given parenting time everysat. He decided not to come any more and sent me emails telling me not to show up and telling me to tell her good bye. My husband and I filed for adoption because he had abandoned her for a year or more. Now that we are waiting for the courts to set a hearing he sent me texts saying that I have to take her to visitation or he will have the cops come to my house and hold me in contempt.? In over a year this is the first and now only because we filed for Adoption. What can I do. I have followed the rules and he has not. I showed up for six weeks with out him showing up before he finally told me not to! Now I have to or face contempt? I do not get it. He choose that not me. Help

  28. Knots in Stomach says:

    My husband could not get his kids for one of his weekends. He informed the custodial mother of this. A couple of days passed and he realized he could get them. He told the custodial parent that he would be picking them up as scheduled in the visitation agreement. She then claimed that she already told them they were with her and proceeded to fight him on it until he gave up and said he would just get them for his next weekend visit. All of this was done via email. 3 Days before his scheduled weekend she changed her mind and said he could get them. By that time he already committed to something else and couldn’t get them. She is threatening to file contempt on him. Can she do this after she said no.

  29. mike says:

    I got divorced when my son was 5, at the time i didn’t have the money for a good lawyer, so i got railroaded. Over the years my ex has lied to ranted to our son. he let her place and moved in with me at 18, said he wanted nothing more to do with her. Now she is taking revenge and want to take me back to court, and he is now 20 yrs. old. And is lying saying i didn’t pay all the child support. And I did. I was suppose to get him throughout the years 80 days a year. I got him over 200 days a year, she never wanted to keep him just the money. so with her tactics she would tell me take certian stuff out of the child support check for things for him. What I didn’t relize is she was setting me up. I never got to claim him on my taxes even thought i had him more. I have everything documented, but time when she wouldn’t have him for weeks, she wouldn’t take a check. so much more here. bottom line is she is telling her lawyer i’m a dead beat dad, and i am not, i would do anything for my son. and everyone knows this encluding her family. I never took her back to court, because i didn’t want my son to feel all the stran so I just excepted it all and done the best for my son. so now what do i do , I have bentover backwards, and have gone way beyond anything she has contrubited to our son. How does a good dad get such a bad rap, and how do the courts control someone lying. so now her lawyer says she is out for revenge, because her son doesn’t want anything to do with her . which i don’t think is heathy for him , but it is his choice , he is of age now. He is upset with her because he knows I have done anything and every thing for him, he doesn’t think it is right. so frustrated and will soon be broke, if this proceeds in lawyer fees.
    help

  30. chris says:

    The other party in my case has not done her parent classes (clackmas county) what steps do I take to enforce she take it? Is there a form I must fill out?

    • Chris:

      I would hesitate prior to trying to contempt your ex for failing to take the parenting class. Usually the court won’t let someone modify the plan until they comply with the parenting class requirement.

  31. chris says:

    Thank you, It seems she get away with everything, we have 50/50 everything. I’ve done my class and pay child support, yet she gets away with not having to do it and I still have to pay? I’m wanting to get full coustdy of the 2 kids, sense she has been having the kids their homework has been lost, she has a violent man in her house busting holes in door swearing and calling her names in front of the kids. we just started this parting plan per the court in April is it to early to try and get full coustdy?

    • Chris:

      The safety issues are concerning, and would be concerning to the court, regardless of how long since the plan went into effect. I suggest you talk to us or another law office quickly to determine your rights.

  32. Jan says:

    My brother won sole custody of his now 5 year old daughter 2 years ago — At that time, his ex was charged with 2 contempt of court charges for leaving the state w/his daughter and not communicating nor taking his calls. My question is, what are the ramifications for contempt? It seemed like in court that she just got a “slap on the wrist” and no other sanctions. She walks a line of violating the order all the time. In your experience, is there more of a prejudice towards men? Just curious. In my opinion, the Judge did not seem hard enough on her based on her willful violations of the then parenting plan.

    • Jan:

      The court has a broad range of sanctions they can impose if someone willfully violates a court order, however, judges have discretion in what sanctions to impose, and generally withhold the harshest sanctions for serious violations and people that repeatedly violate court orders.

  33. Kris Crey says:

    My ex was held in contempt. She is supposed to pay me contempt fee’s. How long does she have to pay it? What can I do to seek payment if she is not paying? She also is to pay childsupport. She is already 4 months behind. She is running from job to job making it hard for DCS to catch up to her. She has also gave DCS the wrong address for her current employer. How far does she have to be behind before I can take her to court on another contempt for not paying her support?
    Thanks, I look forward to hearing your advice.

  34. Stephanie says:

    My ex husband has filed a contempt order against me because I have not followed the parenting plan set forth when our divorce decree took place. Before we divorced I was a stay-at-home-mom; so when we got the divorce and got the plan I was to meet him at 7pm half way for his weekend visitation. That happened for about 9 months; I got a new job that would not allow me to take off work early so I am not 3-1/2 hours late each visitation weekend. So, he has filed the contempt order. I am scared to death. What can happen to me since my employeer will not allow me to take off work? I have to work to support my 2 kids.

  35. Rebecca says:

    My ex-husband and I have a parenting plan that states that he is not to have any alcohol when our child is with him, as well as awarding me Sole Custody with all major decision making authority (including religious training). Our daughter, now 14, has told me that on multiple occasions, he has stopped at the local liquor store after picking her up on his designated weekends, routinely leaves her with other family or friends on his weekends, telling her that he has ‘other things to do’, and is forcing her to go to his church. During our mediation, I requested that he and his family not be allowed to take her to their church as I do not agree with their religious practices. Per our parenting plan, he is not to have alcohol in his possession when she is with him, as well as the fact that, as being the Sole Custodial parent, I have all major decision authority. Is there anything the court can do in this situation? He is clearly not following the parenting plan that he signed and agreed to and I’m not sure what my options for enforcement are.

    Thanks!

  36. Whenever one of the parents violates the parenting plan, technically legally speaking they can be convicted of being in contempt of court.

  37. Travis says:

    I have a interesting situation, My ex and I went to mediation in January of 2011 and came up with a parenting plan through mediation. With in 4-5 weeks of this agreement my oldest son 15 at the time could not get along with his mother and she “gave him back to me” she could not deal with him. He has been in my care now from then. Part of the mediated agreement stated that all 3 of the kids would stay in the prior school district that hey attended until the completion of high school. What I failed to mention is that we worked out a 50/50 joint custody in mediation. So all three of the children spent half the time with there mother and half the time with me. I have since been remarried and live about 10 miles from there old school. His mother agreed to let him change schools in september and he now attends a new high school and is doing great. In the 11 months he has had 1 over night visit on Thanksgiving in which his mother got so intoxicated she passed out. My two other children which are both girls 13 and 15 have since December 5th have also came to live with me on a full time basis also. My 15 year old daughter has had a VERY hard time getting along with her mother and from July to Sept had also lived with us full time. But now that all the children live with us we need to change them in schools. There mother has filed a Enforcement of Parenting plan with the courts and the court hearing is at the end of this month. I have stack of emails from the mother backing up all the irratic actions that she has taken including a email stating she wants me to take care of the children until she finishes school, gets a job, and gets help for her problems. She gives us no support for the kids and even when they where with her we had to provide almost everything for the girls. All of the kids want nothing to do with there mother anylonger and dont want to see her at all. I am in the process of filing a change of custody order with the courts but am wondering if I should bring the kids to court with me at the end of the month or not. And do I need to file a response with the courts prior to the hearing? Any help would be awesome. Thank you

    • Generally, bringing kids to court is a bad idea. Most judges think having a child testify for you and against the other parent shows very poor judgment. There are better ways to get a child’s position in front of a judge, including using an expert for a parenting time study, or an attorney for the children.

  38. danielle says:

    so my husband and I have costody of his 2 boys. Their mom has 3 weekends a month for visitation. We gained costody after she was with a abusive man for several years. Our order state that this man is not supposed to be in her home at anytime , even if the children are not there. As this man has several DV cases against him. We found out recently that he has been staying the night over there even when the boys are there. My question is are we in viloation of the visitation agreement if we keep them from going over there? Can we file contempt of court on her?

  39. lisa kravitz says:

    Nine-plus years ago I agreed to allow my then-12-year-old to live with his dad and signed a shared parenting agreement in Ohio allowing me bi-weekly and alternate holiday/b-day visitation. I spent an entire college fund on preventing this from happening, but I wasn’t going to win and my son was very belligerent about living with his dad. This and the fact that I didn’t want him to hate me in the future for not letting him go PLUS other personal considerations made me cave in. For awhile he visited regularly, even though it wasn’t always smooth-sailing. By the ninth grade, visitation dwindled to almost nothing; my phone calls were ignored/not returned for months at a time; and I was treated badly by his dad, my lawyer and Athens County. When I reported this to the lawyer, Tom Eslocker (Athens) and asked if it was illegal, he said, “Not really”. I got papers to file contempt charges, but was asked by the county what I really wanted them to do about a child’s unwillingness to come. They couldn’t very well take him by force. For years, I have watched in depression, sadness, anger, helplessness, horror as that family has marginalized me as a parent. My child has been taught to do the same. It’s inhumane treatment. I was a good parent, not a raging anything. I was really caught up in something beyond myself. My son is now 22; I rarely see him. That’s how it’s been for years. Do I have legal recourse for myself? Can I make a legal difference in the lives of others who have been mistreated by the legal system? Please help me.

  40. Aria says:

    My fiancee and I were given full custody of his 3 year old daughter and her biological mother was to get an 8 hour visitation a week. She hasn’t seen her duaghter in 3 months all together, and its been a month since the parenting plan was signed by a judged and she hasn’t made any form of contact in a month either….is this contempt of court? Could we get her rights severed?

  41. Michelle Bonner says:

    I have sole custody of my children and my ex would not allow my 13 year old to come home with me after a visit and did not bring him back for 5 days, stating that our son is old enough to make up his mind who he wants to live with. He is already on probation for contempt of court for not paying child support and not serving jail time when he was supposed to. He obviouly has no regard for the authority of any court and never has. He lives life on his own terms and “answers to no one” as he likes to say. He is also teaching this to our son, which worries me enormously. He is unemployed, practically homeless (just evicted from his apt and now living with his sister) and has been in and out of jail repeatedly over the years for various reasons. I want to file contempt and ask the court to order jail time for him, but the instructions for packet 19 says I can’t ask for jail time unless I have an attorney…why is that? Can I also file a restraining order on him, as I am afraid he will come to my house while I’m working and take the kids away?

  42. dj says:

    my x girlfriend keep cutting are keeping my daughter from me we have a parenting plan that said 5pm fri -8pm sun she makes me wait till 6pm to get her and is over to get her anytime on sunday fron 5-6 pm i also have a job that i can not be there to pick my daughter up and text her that my mom will but she won’t let her it does not say i have to be there is she in contempt

  43. Jayson says:

    Hope Im not bringing up a dead post. My ex and I have Shared Custody with 50/50 visitation. For the last 6 months we had a verbal agreement where I was keeping my daughters 7 days a week for schooling and my ex-wife had nowhere suitable for the children to stay at the time. In March our plan changed verbally again so that she could have the children Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, because she had found somewhere to stay. (Recently I found out that the guy she stays with was also accused of molesting my ex-wife’s sister when they were younger.) This went on until last week when she took it upon herself to go back to the divorce decree of 50/50 visitation without talking to me or going through mediation. It has been 8 days since I have seen my daughters and now she refuses to answer my calls and wont tell me where my children are. I am getting them today at 4pm. I hope. What can I do to get my daughters back to at least 5 days a week?

  44. H Brown says:

    Currently the mother of my fiance’s son has custody of him. But for over a year now (the time I’ve know everyone) she has repeatedly failed to have the son where he needs to be for weekday overnight visits, as well as being tardy up to 12 hrs for weekend visits. Also she has just moved 75miles from the son’s father without any written notification to the court or the father. The parenting plan states that she is not to move more than 60miles and that he is to have Tuesday overnight visits. She has not filed for a change in the parenting plan but has stated that once school starts the weekday overnights will not be happening (son is 6 yrs old). Though she recently verbally agreed to meet half way for weekend visits.
    Since the start of the year we have been keeping track of all the times she has not kept to the parenting plan. Also during last December we found out the a year ago now this March she was convicted of a criminal charge, theft. My fiance has talked with his lawyer but all that is recommended is an action to change the parenting plan. And an extremely high bill to go along with it.
    My question is this; with all the information on her recent run in with the law, the moving without consent and the lack to up hold the court order, verses my fiance’s clean criminal background, steady residence for 7 years and re- marriage (July this year), should he instead file contempt on her and seek full custody? Or is it agreed that, as the current lawyer says, he doesn’t have a chance for custody?
    We could really us a second opinion from a legally knowledgeable source!
    H.

    *She allegedly moved for schooling to complete her teaching degree*

  45. Kenny says:

    I hope this is an easy question. Is it considered contempt if I forfeit certain times that I am supposed to get my daughter? I see my daughter every other weekend. I am forfeiting Christmas Eve since I will see her the weekend before and we will be Celebrating over the weekend. And will be unable to get her New Year’s Eve due to money issues. This month is tight on the budget due to Christmas. I was ordered that I have to drive to all pickups and drop offs. I live 52 miles from my daughter so the cost of driving alone is tough at times. My ex says that I’m in contempt if I don’t get her on Christmas Eve and NYE. Thoughts?

  46. ryan says:

    I’ve been trying to file a contempt citation for over a month. I’m my temp hearing he judge ordered no romantic parties. My ex currently has another man living with her.
    After 3 weeks of trying to get my attorney to file a contempt citation, I was finally able to sign the citation and was told that it would be filed that day.
    That was over a week ago…….she stop hasn’t filed it!
    Is there a time frame that she has to file once signed?

  47. James says:

    I am filing for Contempt of Court because the Respondent moved out of state and has refused to give parenting time. The Enforcement of Parenting Time had no effect. Is the $500 per day generally a one time fine, or can it continue until the Respondent complies, and requests it be reduced? I seem to read a one time $500 fine in too many appeal cases.

  48. Kaitlinn says:

    I have had joint custody that was set up and agreed to when my ex and I divorced. He takes the kids every other weekend and has done so for about 10 years now. I have my youngest who lives with me and he has our oldest who lives with him. When we signed the divorce papers we had an agreement that we would alternate holidays. In the past 10 years, I have had the kids for one new years and one 4th of july. this year is my turn to have the kids for the 4th and my ex said no because his family is visiting and its “his week” to have the kids during summer. (we alternate weeks.) Is it right for him to keep the kids with out asking for a holiday even if they were at his place last year for said holiday?

  49. Tina Grover says:

    Have a basic parenting plan with my 9 yr old daughters dad. We were never married. He didn’t see her until she was 2 1/2 when we got back together in 2006. In 2009 we called it quits. He routinely got her every other weekend and usually took her two out of the seven weeks ordered over the summer plus holidays until 2012. Since June 2012 he has had her for 3 nights. He hasn’t asked for her on any of his ordered holidays. He calls about every 2 weeks, but doesn’t ask to speak with her. He has the same custody agreement for his son from another woman and gets him as stated in the parenting. I don’t mind having her all the time. She is old enough to see that he is getting her brother and not her. She doen’t want to go with him. My question is, what can I do to prevent him from say a year or two from now deciding that he wants to get her.

    • Stephens Margolin says:

      Tina – Judges are unimpressed with parents that are not consistent in using parenting time. He has legal rights to see her, but you could try to modify the parenting plan to match the visits he’s actually using. Courts can, after proper notice and after a parenting plan has already been entered, lock in parenting time as it has been practiced vs. what’s in the original parenting plan. The order is called a post judgment temporary protective order of restraint, and is temporary during a modification action.

  50. laura says:

    If you have a mediation or court date does your employer have to comply with the date and time?

  51. Rachel McMillan says:

    I know this seems petty but my divorce decree says that I am to send clothing and all items necessary for visits and the non custodial parent is to return ALL items. Ive been having a problem with my ex not returning items and I put in place an “inventory list” that is sent each visit under legal advice. He complied for a year up until these last several months. This past visit I was missing clothes again and I sent him an email asking could he please send them back sometime this week and he said “no, he’s not returning them.” Is this ok? Can he refuse if the court order addresses this specifically. I originally sent 6 pair shorts and shirts and he came back with 3 shorts and 3 shirts from his summer visit. Just curious..

    • Stephens Margolin says:

      Rachel:

      Many parents have a clause in their parenting plan that reads like this:

      “Clothes. Father shall maintain a supply of basic clothing (socks, underwear, shirts, pants, etc.) for the children at his residence. Mother shall provide the children with specialized clothing (coats, sport uniforms, etc.) for the time they are to be with Father. This does not mean that Mother must purchase specialized items at Father’s request. Each parent shall return all clothing that a child came with.”

      If your judgment or parenting plan requires the return of clothes, you could bring the issue to a judge’s attention. If it doesn’t, a court could modify your parenting plan to require the return of clothes.

      C. Sean Stephens

  52. Sabrina says:

    In our divorce decree my ex agreed to pay 250.00 a month for child support. He has violated the decree. The order is not passed through the state it’s in our divorce papers. It’s been 10 years nothing has been paid to me. How can I get it garnished if its not a state order. How can I get back time? What do I need to do to make him comply.

    • Stephens Margolin says:

      Sabrina:

      I would need more information to know how to help. IF your paperwork provides he pays you directly and you have an enforceable money award, you likely have several different collection remedies available, including garnishment and contempt.

      I don’t understand the question about getting time back. Call our office to book an appointment, or call another lawyer to go over your rights and remedies.

      Sean Stephens, Google +,
      View all posts by author Sean Stephens

  53. Brandi says:

    My ex husband dropped out of my kids’ lives at the end of June of this year. Before that, his visitation was unreliable, he refused to call ahead and confirm, sometimes he was late, sometimes he didn’t show up at all and they were ALWAYS late getting home. After June, however, he never called, not even on birthdays and never once tried to see them. Last week he called me out of the blue and said he wanted to see them. I said he could have them for one night, after I saw where he was living and who he was living with and then we’d take it from there. I agreed to let him have them for Thanksgiving, since it was in our parenting plan that this year was his. This morning, Thanksgiving, he was supposed to be here at 9 and did not show up. We called him and he did not answer. We went ahead with our holiday plans and he called at almost 1pm and wanted to know if he could still come get them. He said he’d “slept in.” I told him no and plan to contact a lawyer tomorrow about changing the parenting time to try and protect my kids from a parent who thinks he can arbitrarily drop in and out of their lives on his schedule. I’m not sure what to do, though, except try to make his visitation at my discretion? How else can I reserve the right to tell him no if he keeps toying with them by not showing up and disappearing?

  54. andrea says:

    My children’s father has a set time to come see the children supervised from 10am until 2 pm. For the last 3 visits he has been late over an hour , can I take him back to court or resolution management to get his visitation cut down or give me sole custody?

    • Sean Stephens says:

      Andrea:

      Your situation sounds frustrating, and is more common than it should be. Courts won’t use the remedy of contempt of court if a parent fails to use parenting time, or is late to parenting time. If someone fails to use all of their court ordered time, a better approach is to change the parenting plan to match what they actually use. You may be able to get a “status quo” order to lock in the parenting time he’s actually using. I previously blogged about status quo order’s here.

      I think mediation is a good idea to get a more workable plan. I’d have to know more regarding the change of custody, however, being chronically late to pick up your kids is not impressive to a judge.

      Sean Stephens

  55. Diane says:

    can the courts put you in jail for being late bringing my daughter by 10 minutes and blocking my phone because he is texting me at 1 am I got served papers for contempt of court I blocked the phone and forgot to turn it on so he could talk to his daughter what do I do

    • Sean Stephens says:

      Diane:

      Contempt is a potential remedy when someone is willfully disobeying a court order. Jail time is a potential remedy for contempt, though an extreme one, and courts usually reserve it for the more severe violations, or repeat violators. I haven’t looked at your judgment, but if it specifies a time for the exchange, being late isn’t following the parenting plan. If the parenting plan requires you to have a working phone so the father can call the daughter, blocking him could also be a violation. There may be defenses available to you, but I’d need to see the court order to know. Contempt is very serious, and my strong recommendation is that you schedule an appointment with a lawyer in our office, or any available family law lawyer to go over your court order and the contempt motion.

      By Sean Stephens

  56. Jerry says:

    I have a 50/50 parenting plan and in the plan it states that the parents have full parental rights and SHARED responsibility and are responsible to confer and make major decisions affecting the welfare of the children to include education, healthcare etc.. We have done well in following the plan but have one area of huge disagreement, education. My 13 yo son’s grades have been declining for the past 2 years. We were both somewhat leniant last year thinking it may be the middle school transition but it continues. I have had repeated discussions with him about expectations and accountability and when I try to discuss this issue with her to form some kind of unified front all I get is “you do things your way at your house and I’ll do things my way”. (and I did try to talk to her before him) When I talk to him about it he says she never even brings it up. He has also mentioned that there is very little oversight over there and its too easy to just play Xbox instead of doing homework. I understand that that is his personal responsibility, but he is still a child and will take the easy way out if it’s put in his lap. My question is, How do I get her to discuss this issue and develop a joint academic plan of goals and expectations and a guide of potential corrective action for accountability. It’s not very effective if I restrict video games and she provides unlimited access. I was thinking of requesting mediation. Is this viable? Should I file contempt for failure to confer? Thank you so much for this site.

    • Stephens Margolin says:

      Joint custody can be ideal for parents and kids who cooperate, and can be frustrating when there’s a disconnect about what’s good for a child. Contempt isn’t a remedy for joint custody problems, as the only thing the court can do if push comes to shove is terminate joint custody and award sole custody to one parent or the other. Mediate first, then if mediation fails, meet with a lawyer face to face and determine if it’s worth moving for sole custody or changing the parenting plan so that more of the homework happens on your time.

      Sean Stephens

  57. Lonnie says:

    I have a obsessed alienator ex wife that ran off with my ex best friend that is a washington state patrol. She married him in 2011 and every since I agreed to give her parental custody she has made my life a living hell when it comes to trying to get my kids. I live out of state and the parenting plans states that I pay for transportation which I have always done. I have always made sure the kids were returned on or before so she would have no issues. I admit I have not been Very stable and I have moved a few different place since 2009 but I have always maintained communication by calling texting or visits but now my ex will not let them call or text or visit. Is she in contempt ?

    • Stephens Margolin says:

      Lonnie:

      I’d have to look at your specific court order to determine if your parenting time problems could be helped by a contempt motion. There’s a difference between being difficult, and not following the parenting plan. Have there been times where you were entitled to the kids but didn’t receive them?

      Sean Stephens

  58. frusterated step mom says:

    My husbands ex wife is not and will not follow the parenting plan set forth by the courts over 10 years ago. She says the 12 and 14 year old children of my husband get to chose weather they want to come or not (which is a violation of our parenting agreement, as well as publicly slandering my husband constantly which is also a violation or contempt of court order) but she tries to claim it’s the other way around that my husband doesn’t want the kids but this is not the case. Is this worth going to court over? we have proof of all the slander and texts where she straight says she will not make the kids come visit when their ordered time is.

    • Stephens Margolin says:

      Dear Frustrated:

      It’s difficult to say whether it’s worth going to court over unless I had more information. Generally, my opinion is that court should be saved for high value issues, because the process can be expensive, time consuming, stressful, and unpredictable. That said, 12 and 14 year old kids don’t get to decide if they go for parenting time. An enforcement of parenting time action under ORS 107.434 might help. If the conflict level is very high, your family may benefit from getting a parent coordinator appointed under ORS 107.425. You can find more information about parenting coordinators in my previous article Oregon Parenting Coordinators.

      Sean Stephens

  59. Emily says:

    I have full custody of my daughter and her father gets her T:TH from 1-5. Our court order states that he is to pick her up by 1 and I pick her up from him at 5. Recently he has started sending his grandmother to pick my daughter up. The first time it happened his grandmother told us he was sick and that she had scheduled pictures, so my husband and I let her go, but told the grandmother that we’re not going to make a habit of it. However, when we were both returning to work (not 5 min after his grandmother picking up our daughter) we saw him standing on the corner 3 blocks away. I have since been telling the grandmother that unless her grandson is there to pick up my daughter by 1:10 then he would be giving up his visitation. Am I in contempt of court? He keeps threatening to take me back to court, but the court order says he has to be the one to pick her up.

  60. Stephanie says:

    In 2009, My ex and I went through a huge custody battle and were able to go to counseling, limited case management, etc and ended up putting together a working parenting plan. In 2012, after not having ONE issue (which as super unusual in our case) we became great friends. We had a two days/two day/every other weekend schedule… but due to my ex’s need to travel one week to another state, I decided to work with him and try the week to week schedule… our son (12 at the time) was not thrilled about this situation… but I backed my ex’s request and agreed to the trial of week to week… we have been doing this schedule for awhile now and it worked for the first year… however, after about a year we started to have issues again and now we are back to where we were when we had the need for the custody battle in 2009… My question is, I’d like to return to the orginal parenting plan that is currently set in place but he is fighting it… What do you recommend that I do? Our parenting plan specifically states that my ex is not to involve our son in disputes and for th last year every time he gets angry at me he texts our son, calls our son and tells him all about it. Is that considered contempt? There are also several other things (such as not harrassing me, not making decisions without me, etc) that he has also over the past year started doing again… Could I have a contempt of court case or will I be seen in bad light for also not following the plan as intended by allowing him to have our son week to week rather than the schedule set forth in court?

  61. John Gaffney says:

    My 17 1/2 year old daughters mother agreed verbally and in a text that she could come live with me for her Senior year. She was just served child support papers asking her to sign if my daughter was living here. She said yes, temporarily. Child support then notified her that she would not be getting our daughters child support as long as she is living here. She has been here 3 weeks and now my x says I have to continue paying the money or make my daughter go back. My daughter is refusing and I dont want her to have to. Do I have any rights or is this contempt of court? Thank you for any advice.

    • Stephens Margolin says:

      John:

      A hard situation, and you do have rights, thought contempt is probably not the right tool. A better plan would be to file a post judgment status quo motion asking to freeze the parenting plan as it’s being practoced with your daughter residing with you, move to modify the parenting plan to reflect that she lives with you, and move to terminate or modify child support. It’s problematic because your daughter is only a minor for 6 more months.

      Sean Stephens

  62. Lora says:

    My sons ex girlfriend is keeping his 18 month old baby girl from him because they broke up. He hasn’t seen her in about 3 weeks, which is long for him because before that he had her 50/50 since she was 4 months old and before that the two lived together so he was with her everyday. So going three weeks without her seems like forever. Anyways he got a lawyer and the lawyer filed a status quo showing the judge that he has had the baby 50/50 the judge signed it so the next step was to get a right of assist to have a sheriff go with myself to pick the baby up so that the 50/50 would be put back in place until the court date or a mediation. Well she lives in Washington county and the judge would not sign it because they won’t interfere unless there is a custody agreement in place. So I went to her house to see if she would give me the baby and she said no. So now she isn’t following what the judge told her to do and my son now has to have his lawyer file for a temp full custody of the baby since she violated the status quo. Can she get in trouble for not following the orders of the status quo. Thanks.

    • Stephens Margolin says:

      If there is a status quo order, or a temporary protective order of restraint in place, you can use enforcement motions such as contempt to try to get the opposing party to comply with the order. However, it sounds like you hit on a common misinterpretation of the status quo / temporary protective order statute. You can’t use one to get an order of assistance to have a child returned unless you have custody in a court document.

      Sean Stephens

  63. sam avakian says:

    Court order state either parent can seek ER , and shall notify the other parent
    within 2 hours , my ex-wife she didn’t notify me at least for 5 times, when we agree
    to do 730 , the MC asked me to put it off calendar now 730 it didn’t happen
    during that time she took our son to ER again she didn’t notify me
    I am seeking change the custody any advice

    • csstephens says:

      Sam:

      That sounds frustrating. Regarding advice, I would strongly recommend you meet with a family law lawyer, share all of your information, and see if a modification motion is the best tool to address your frustration. Enforcement and modification are very different proceedings. We’d be happy to meet with you and go over your specific situation and put together a plan.

      Sean Stephens

  64. amber says:

    If custody papers state that the parties can not themselves or allow anyone else to use “mother” or “father” or names meaning those for anyone other than the biological mother & father, what could be done if the stepmom(they say they are married) is telling the 3 year old that she is her other “mommy” ? She also posts pictures of the child on her facebook and allows others to comment that she looks like her mom or acts like her mom, when in all reality they don’t know the real mom & are referring to the “stepmom”??

  65. Anne says:

    Hello, I have a “parenting order” with my soon-to-be ex – no final divorce orders. Here’s my question: he has been bringing the children consistently late for like three years, sometimes only a few minutes but in the past six months, 30-40 minutes have happened multiple times. Now today, he actually texted me that he will be late returning them from their afternoon visit (blaming traffic delaying making dinner) and he is planning to bring them back late the next time too cause he planned an activity for the kids in late afternoon. Now, I know he is pushing my buttons as we finally have dates for arbitration, and I keep thinking that these things just make my document bigger to win my points. However, someone told me to tell him “this is not okay with me” or something of the sort so that he doesn’t think he has “implied consent”. Would you advise me to do the same or just shut my mouth and endure for a few more months? Thanks!

    • csstephens says:

      Anne,

      A judge is less likely to be concerned about a parenting plan violation if you aren’t concerned about it. Establishing a text or email record of your objections to the late returns is a good idea.

      Sean Stephens

  66. Samantha says:

    My daughter is almost 11 years old, we’ve had the same court order since her dad moved 5 hours away when she was 3. I am the primary guardian. He gets 6 weeks of the summer, all 3 day weekends during the school year, christmas day and christmas break, every other thanksgiving, every other easter, and every single spring break she’s ever had. This has always been a tough parenting plan for her and I, but recently it is getting more difficult. She wants to do sports and this type of schedule is just not allowing it. She wanted to play ball this year, but the 6 weeks of the summer means that she will miss half of the season, so she quickly decided it wasn’t worth it. She’s a good kid and makes good grades, I feel that athletics is also very important to child development. She did do competitive cheer (which I paid for all of it) and during one of his weekends she had a competition out of town. I offered him the info and hotel group rate 6 months in advance, and also told him that we would arrange for him to make up the days lost with her. He threw a fit and filed contempt charges on me bc he missed that weekend with her. Our court order specifically states that time spent with either parent is not to interfere with extra curricular activities, does this not include sports? He knew well in advance, but chose not to even act upset about it until it was too late (we where at the competition when he told me he was mad via text message).

    • csstephens says:

      Samantha,

      It sounds like you may have some specific defenses to the contempt motion, but I’d have to look at your Judgment and parenting plan get the full picture. Contempt is serious, and you should meet with a family law lawyer as soon as you can. Feel free to call our office to arrange for a consultation.

      Sean Stephens

  67. DPG says:

    I have a parenting plan that specifies exact times, pick ups and drop offs. My EX continues to make it difficult to follow. She is always late and asking for modification on her own will and holidays. I could get her in contempt but she is not worth the money. Best advice, spend the money on the best attorney you can find..and I mean the best. I do have question for all. How would you interpret this provision:

    “The child shall be picked up and returned at designated times. Should a delay become necessary, the receiving parent shall be notified immediately”

    • Sean Stephens says:

      DPG:

      The plain meaning of “shall” and “immediately” are clear. Immediate notification means immediate, like a phone call or text as soon as you know you are going to be late. I’d interpret it as the plan needing to be strictly followed.

      Sean Stephens

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