When your divorce is settled, you and your former spouse are expected to adhere to the custody agreement laid out by the court. If the custody agreement is violated, then you need to get in touch with your child custody lawyer in Houston, TX so you can take steps to stop this from continuing. Let’s look at what happens if your former spouse violates the custody agreement.
Ask a Child Custody Lawyer in Houston, TX: What Happens if a Custody Agreement Is Violated?
Writ of Habeas Corpus
Visit this page to get in touch with a child custody lawyer, as you’ll need one if the custody agreement is violated. You’ll need one to help you with a writ of habeas corpus. This writ of habeas corpus is a legal order to have your child returned to you if you’re the one entitled to superior possession of them.
In some cases, a temporary order may be issued, too, to prevent the other parent from accessing the child. However, a temporary order is typically only issued in cases where your child may be in danger of immediate physical or emotional harm while spending time with the other parent.
Contempt of Court
The person who violated the custody agreement may be held in contempt of court. However, you must be able to prove that your former spouse violated the custody agreement if you wish them to be held in contempt of court. If the court order regarding custody was written ambiguously, then it may be difficult to hold the violator in contempt.
Part of why it’s so important to have a great child custody lawyer is to ensure your custody agreement is written in simple terms that cannot be misinterpreted. Making sure there’s no additional way to interpret your custody agreement should be very helpful for both understanding the agreement and enforcing it if it’s violated in the future.
If your former spouse interfered with your possessory right to your child, then you may be entitled to sue for damages. The Texas Family Code prohibits your former spouse from taking, holding onto, or concealing your child from you during the time you’re supposed to have possession of the child. Texas Family Code 42.002 states that the person violating the custody agreement may be liable for damages to you.
In rare cases, there may be criminal consequences for violating the custody agreement. Interfering with the custody agreement can result in a state jail felony, according to the Texas Penal Code 25.03.
When Might There Be Criminal Consequences for Violating the Custody Agreement?
It Violates the Terms of Judgement
If your former spouse is aware that their actions violate the custody agreement, then there may be criminal consequences.
For example, if your former spouse knows that the court order states your child must spend the entire summer with you, but your former spouse picks your child up from school when summer vacation begins and takes possession of them with no intent to bring them to you, then they are violating the terms of the judgement.
Taking the Child Out of the Geographic Area
There’s likely a specific geographic area that each parent can travel within with their child. If you’re the custodial parent, then you may be allowed to take the child anywhere, but the noncustodial parent may only be allowed to travel with the child within a specific area. If your former spouse violates the agreement by taking the child out of the specific geographical area they must stay within, then there may be criminal consequences.
There may also be criminal consequences if your former spouse takes the child out of the court’s area of jurisdiction in an attempt to prevent the court from having authority over the child. Finally, if your former spouse takes the child out of the country to try to stop you from accessing the child, then there may also be criminal consequences.
What Is Considered Violating the Custody Agreement?
Some examples of custody agreement violations include:
- Attempting to make visits longer than allowed by the court
- Trying to see the child more often than allowed
- Denying access when one parent has visitation rights
- Ignoring court-ordered schedules
What Do I Do if My Former Spouse Is Violating the Custody Agreement?
If your former spouse is violating the custody agreement, then you may wish to speak to them to find out why they’re doing it. Sometimes they may just be mistaken in cases where the agreement is written ambiguously. Other times, they may be intentionally violating the agreement. If you believe they’re intentionally violating the agreement, then you should get in contact with a child custody lawyer, so you can take action against your former spouse.
If your former spouse is violating the custody agreement, then you should get in contact with your attorney to stop this behavior as soon as possible. That custody agreement was agreed upon for a reason, and ensuring it’s enforced is typically within your child’s best interests.
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