When two parents separate, it can often be difficult to come to an agreement regarding the care and support of the children. Sometimes, a court needs to apply an order to cover these parenting issues. Yet an order written on a piece of paper is one thing and compliance is another. If you suspect that the other parent is not living up to their side of the bargain, what options do you have?
First Things First
The first thing that you need to remember is that courts will generally look at the entire situation and want to know whether the actions of the parties were reasonable or not. Before bringing any action, you should ask yourself whether they are likely to judge the situation as reasonable, taking all of your emotions out of the equation.
Are You Impartial?
It can be difficult to be impartial, especially when your feelings may still be raw after the separation. You are very worried about the children and want to make sure that they are well cared for and get through this entire situation with as little emotional scarring as possible. But still, you shouldn't bring any kind of action if the courts are not likely to uphold it.
Fair and Reasonable?
The big question is, therefore, what is reasonable and what is unreasonable?
Is it just a case of "life getting in the way?" Generally speaking, the courts will have a look at the action or inaction and will want to see whether the other party intentionally prevented the court order from being applied, failed to comply or made no "reasonable" attempts to comply. There is that word "reasonable" again.
Unravelling the Details
If they can see that there was a theoretical contravention, then they will look further into the detail. They will need to know that the other party was fully aware that they were potentially contravening a court order. They will ask whether the action was a result of a wish to protect the safety or well-being of the child for some reason. In other words, they want to know all the details associated with the alleged contravention.
Fundamentally, both parents need to be proactive in their parenting obligations on an ongoing basis. They must encourage the child to spend time with the other parent, even if there is a natural reluctance on behalf of the child to do so. In short, you cannot take the side of the child in such an instance but must make an effort to overcome the objections.
If you are still sure that there was a contravention, then it is possible to apply to the court, who may order that the kids spend additional time with you as a consequence. They may impose additional orders or require that both parties attend a special programme. It's also possible that a fine and costs could be imposed.
As this can be quite complicated and as it may be difficult to be truly impartial, it's best to consult with a family lawyer before taking any action at all.