Although most people would prefer to resolve conflicts with their coparent outside of court, sometimes a judge needs to step in to make sure a parent's time with their child is protected. After all, in Oregon, the best interests of the children usually means frequent and unhampered relationships with both parents. When one parent is being unfairly blocked from having a meaningful relationship with their child, one of the most powerful and efficient tools that an Oregon judge can use to resolve a parenting time conflict is an Expedited Parenting Time Enforcement.
Withholding parenting time unjustifiably
Most commonly, a parent may choose to file a parenting time enforcement action when the other parent does not allow them to see their children. Withholding parenting time comes in many forms, but often is a flat-out refusal to follow a court-ordered parenting time schedule. Example: you're supposed to pick up your kid at their house at 6pm, but the other parent has conveniently gone out of town with the kids without telling you. Now you're missing your weekend with them and not being offered any makeup time. Another example that we often hear is where a parent suddenly accuses the other parent of being unsafe and then on their own action, stops letting the kids go see that parent. Other parenting time violations may also give rise to filing to enforce your parenting time, such as refusing to allow the children to talk to the other parent or unjustifiably blocking the other parent from the children’s school or medical providers. While these actions may also result in contempt of court, this blog focuses solely on the expedited parenting time enforcement procedure.
What exactly is a parenting time enforcement? How will filing this motion help?
An Expedited Parenting Time Enforcement action allows a court to review a case quickly if one parent claims that the other is not allowing them to see their children, or is otherwise interfering with their parental rights in a substantial way. These actions can be used to enforce unlawfully withheld parenting time as well as “substantial violations” of the parenting plan. Because these issues often persist until the court grants relief, the law requires that the court set a hearing within 45 days.
Parenting time enforcements offer comprehensive statutory relief. If the court finds that the parenting plan has been violated, the judge has the authority to order makeup parenting time, temporarily suspend child support, ordering a parent to take parenting classes or counseling focused on the impact of their actions on the children, requiring a parent to post bond or security to ensure compliance with the order, and even modifying the parenting plan. While the court cannot modify custody during an enforcement hearing, they can set a specific custody modification hearing date. These remedies will vary depending on the facts of the case and the nature of the violations.
What are the requirements before you file a parenting time enforcement?
The first and most important step in enforcing parenting time is making sure that there is established parenting time through an Order or Judgment. If there is no legal parenting plan, the court will not have anything to enforce. A court will also not be able to enforce an issue that is not specifically addressed in your parenting plan, so it is critical to ensure that any rights or privileges that you think might be an issue are addressed in your parenting plan. Second, it is important to assess the seriousness of the alleged violations. For example, a rescheduled parenting time that is made up later, or one missed parenting time, might not be substantial enough of a violation for the court to act upon.
Parenting Time Enforcement actions are important tools, but it is important that you use them correctly. If a court finds that the person requesting the enforcement is exaggerating the issue, that finding may weigh against that party in future parenting time matters. The party that loses the enforcement can also be held responsible for the other party’s court costs and attorney fees, so it is important to only bring an action if you can prove the violation occurred.
Parenting Time Enforcements have helped many people that have felt powerless in their coparenting relationship. Having an attorney help you with an enforcement proceeding is important so that you understand the relief you are requesting, and can be adequately prepared for court. If you have questions about enforcing your parenting plan, schedule a consultation with Vibrant Law LLC today.