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Violations of Court Orders: Should You Call 911?

When your ex violates the court ordered custody and/or visitation or denies your parenting time, you may wonder if the most efficient way to deal with the situation is to call the police department. Unfortunately, enforcement of a divorce decree can be tricky and tends to depend on the mindset of local law enforcement.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to enforce your child custody or visitation order:

  1. Police Intervention
  2. A Motion to Enforce through the Court

If there is a court order in place that specifically mandates certain behavior or prohibits certain behavior, it is probably executable through the police. Any order to arrest, seize property, etc. depend on law enforcement to carry weight and be effective. A parenting time order carries the same court authority and is technically enforceable by the police. However, there is sometimes a disconnect between how it should work in theory and how it actually works.

Police officers may be unwilling to get involved in a family law dispute in many cases unless the conduct occurring escalates to dangerous levels or to a criminal infraction. Examples of a family law dispute escalating to a criminal infraction include child abuse, parental kidnapping, etc. In family law disputes that have not escalated to this level, but still constitute a violation of the custody or visitation order, the police may respond by urging you to address it in court. In cases where the police officer does attempt to assist with enforcement, they would typically call the parent in violation and insist they comply with the order or may escort the parent to pick the children up from the parent in violation of the order.

The other option for enforcement of California child custody orders is to file a Motion to Enforce with the court. The motion tells the court that the opposing party is failing to comply with the court’s order or unreasonably denying visitation, etc. If you need help enforcing court ordered child custody or visitation, please get in touch with the experienced California family law attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm today. We can help you figure out what steps you need to take.



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