My Ex Won’t Abide by Custody Arrangements, Now What?

Written by Jonathan Breeden

April 1, 2022

Ideally, divorced parents adhere to their child custody agreement. Unfortunately, some parents make it challenging on their ex (and on the kids) by refusing to abide by child custody orders.

Read on to learn what types of behavior could be considered a violation of child custody and what to do about an ex who won’t follow the agreement.

Custody Agreement: What They Include & How They’re Broken

Child custody agreements in North Carolina typically involve legal and physical custody. An ex often disobeys the physical custody agreement, but legal custody violations also occur.

The following is a list of items that most child custody orders include.

What Do Child Custody Orders Include?

Child custody orders should include a wide range of instructions and scenarios.

A well-drafted child custody order usually contains the following guidelines:

Parenting Time Schedules

Children spend time at each residence unless one parent has sole court-ordered custody. Typically, one parent has primary physical custody, meaning that the children live with them most of the time.

Parenting time schedules might have the kids staying with one parent Monday through Thursday, or parents could have the children for an entire week and then switch.

Parents are encouraged to create a realistic parenting plan in the best interest of their kids.

Phone Calls & Other Communication

Most child custody agreements allow children to call or text the other parent. This arrangement ensures that both parents enjoy as much bonding and communication as possible, even though they live apart.

Holidays & Special Events

Parents should be willing to compromise when it comes to holidays. For example, the children stay with dad for Christmas Eve but are with their mom on Christmas Day. Or both parents might share Christmas day by dividing blocks of time.

Child custody agreements should also address special events, such as a family wedding. One parent would like the children to attend, and hopefully, their ex is willing to allow them even if it’s “their” weekend.

Legal Decisions

Even if one parent does not have physical custody, most agreements allow both parties to make legal decisions involving their children. For example, either parent can take their child to the family pediatrician or urgent care.

Common Child Custody Agreement Violations

However detailed a custody agreement might be, it is up to both parents to abide by this legal document.

Here are common violations of child custody agreements.

Keeping Children Too Long

Child custody lawyers often hear clients claiming that their ex keeps the children longer than the custody agreement allows. For example, they constantly arrive an hour late to drop off the kids. Or, they keep the children overnight even if they don’t have permission.

Not Taking the Children as Agreed

Another common violation of child custody involves an ex who refuses to follow the agreement for joint custody and other parenting time requirements. They don’t show up to collect the children even though it is in the agreement.

Alienating the Other Parent

Parental Alienating Syndrome (PAS) is a genuine concern for children of divorce. Alienation of parental affection might be refusing to allow a child to call the other parent, despite a custody order that permits them. PAS also takes the form of an ex “trash talking” or purposefully trying to damage the child’s relationship with their other parent.

PAS is an incredibly toxic burden on innocent children simply because one parent will not abide by the child custody order.

Tries to Make Your Children Choose

An ex who schedules activities during the other parent’s custody time might be trying to exert undue influence. This might be an attempt to coerce or bribe older children into asking to live with the non-custodial parent.

What to Do When Your Ex Won’t Follow Custody Agreement

If your ex is not following a custody order, there are things you can do to make them abide by the court’s ruling. Begin by documenting each incident. Include the date, time, and a brief description of what happened. Archive digital proof if your ex sent a text or left a message relating to the offense.

Request Mediation with Your Ex

Mediation through family court services might be a way to resolve the problem without going to court. If mediation is successful, the problem is solved. If not, you have proof that you tried to work things out before taking legal action.

Send a Cautionary Letter

A forceful letter that informs your ex that they must obey the court order or face legal penalties may be enough to resolve the situation. This option generally precedes filing a motion for contempt.

File a Motion for Contempt

You may also file a motion for contempt with the court. Court orders are enforceable by the contempt powers of the court. A judge has the discretion to issue criminal or civil penalties to an ex who refuses to follow child custody orders.

Get Help from a Child Custody Lawyer

Whether you live in Johnston, Wake, or Harnett County, the Breeden Law Office can help you hold your ex to a court-ordered child custody agreement. Let us review your situation, explain your legal options, and protect your parental rights.

To learn more, call 919-661-4970 or reach out online to schedule a consultation today.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden