Am I at risk if I violate my child custody order?

Parents are legally required to obey all child custody orders, whether temporary or permanent, that are signed by a judge. When a parent willingly violated that court order they are at risk for being held in contempt of court. Parents can be held in contempt of court for deliberately and frequently violating the child custody order.

Violations include repeatedly denying the non-custodial parent his/her court order co-parenting (visitation) time. A non-custodial parent that does not return the child at the designated time and place or at all would also be violating the court order. Other types of violations can include such things as parent alienation, moving without notifying the other parent of the residency of the child, or denying the other parent access to medical or school information.

What penalties might I face?

Repeated violations of your court order custody agreement can certainly result in penalties assessed by the courts. The penalties can vary. A custodial parent that denies a custodial parent their court-ordered parenting time (visitation) may be faced with the non-custodial parent getting additional time (make-up time) with the child. If the violation is frequent enough and intentional the judge may order jail time for contempt of court. A Non-custodial parent that does not return the child to the custodial parent on time may also face penalties. Judges may even consider modification such as a change in custody when the violations are serious enough.

Can the I let the non-custodial parent take the child while I find suitable housing?

This is a common question that a number of parents are asking after being displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Anytime that parents can work together to ensure an environment (both physical and emotional) that is safe and allows the child to thrive is in the best interest of the child. The parents may decide it is in the best interest of your child to have the child spend some extra time with the non-custodial parent if the custodial parent does not have suitable or safe housing for a period of time.

Is there any risk that the custodial parent may not get the child back?

Yes, if you have permitted your child to live with the non-custodial parent for 6 months or more then it is highly probable that the court will change the custody arrangement. The non-custodial parent would need to seek court intervention by modification of the current court-ordered custody.

Do you need help?

Life is not always simple and decisions are not always easy. Contact the Texas Lawyer Referral Service if you'd like to have a lawyer help you understand your current orders, violations, and remedies.

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