Custody laws and court orders determine which parent has the right to custody of a minor child at any given point. However, the law does not allow a father to forcefully remove a child from the mother even if they have visitation or custody rights. Instead, it is necessary to go through the proper channels to enforce a custody agreement.
Custody disputes are never easy, especially when emotions run high. Instead of attempting to self-enforce the terms of a custody agreement, it is vital to go through the legal system. The J. Rench Law Firm, LLC could assist you with resolving your custody dispute.
When a Child Custody Order is in Place
When the parents of a minor child are subject to a child custody order, it is necessary to go through the courts for any enforcement efforts. The law does not allow a parent to attempt to enforce the terms of a custody agreement themselves. Even if the co-parent is in violation of the agreement, there could be consequences if a parent also violates the order in an effort to secure lawful custody of a minor child.
Instead, the law allows parents more than one enforcement option in their custody case. If your co-parent fails to return custody of your minor child in accordance with the custody arrangement, you could pursue legal action. This legal action could come in the form of family access motions or motions for contempt.
Family Access Motions
State law provides courts with a child support enforcement tool known as family access motions. A family access motion is an option at any point where custody or visitation is denied or interfered with by a parent without good cause. These options are always available, and custody orders must include language explaining how these motions could be used. Compared to motions for contempt, family access motions are typically faster when it comes to resolving custody or visitation disputes.
These motions must spell out the specific ways the other parent violated the terms of the custody agreement. Any hearing must occur within 60 days of the filing of the motion. If granted, the court could award different remedies including additional visitation time, monetary fines, or mandatory counseling.
Motions for Contempt
The more severe of the two remedies is the motion for contempt. A motion for contempt is a common remedy in a variety of family law settings. It is the best option in cases where a parent is unlikely to comply with the outcome of a family access motion.
There are different remedies available with a motion for contempt. When a parent is found in contempt, they are often given the chance to remedy the issue. When that does not happen, there could be enforcement efforts which might include incarceration or fines.
Custody Issues Among Unmarried Parents in St. Louis
Issues surrounding one parent refusing to give up custody of a child to another can be especially challenging when those parents were never married. If there is not a formal acknowledgment of paternity, the father lacks any legal rights under the law. If a father attempted to remove a child from the mother’s custody under these circumstances, it could result in criminal charges.
There are options for these fathers under the law. These remedies require the father to establish their paternity with the courts. If the mother will not voluntarily sign off on a paternity affidavit, the father could pursue a civil case to establish paternity. This usually involves a DNA comparison between the father and child.
Talk to an Attorney About Your Child Custody Dispute in St. Louis
Child custody and visitation disputes are never easy. However, it is never wise to violate the terms of a custody agreement and attempt to remove a child from the custody of the other parent.
If you find yourself in a custody or visitation dispute, it is important that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible. For the immediate help you need, contact the J. Rench Law Firm, LLC right away for your confidential consultation.
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