A child custody determination can be one of the most challenging experiences in any parent’s life. Whether you recently resolved child custody with your co-parent as a standalone issue or as part of a broader divorce case, your custody order is a legally enforceable court order that requires strict compliance. While the thought of losing time with your children may seem unbearable, failure to comply with any custody order in Kansas carries severe legal penalties, including involuntary termination of parental rights in extreme cases.
Child custody disputes can escalate to very intense litigation and even criminal proceedings in some cases. However, it is possible to resolve most custody disputes before they reach critically contentious levels. While finalizing a custody order can be challenging, it’s important to prepare for the possibility that you may need to return to family court later to resolve further custody-related issues.
Disputed Fitness for Custody
The Kansas family court has a duty to preserve the best interests of any children affected by the court’s rulings. This means when a family court judge resolves any custody dispute in Wichita, they must carefully assess numerous factors concerning both parents regarding their ability to meet their child’s needs. The “fitness” of a parent is broadly described as the ability of a parent to provide a safe, clean, and supportive living space and to manage their basic everyday needs.
It’s possible for an initial custody determination to result in one parent being deemed unfit, which means the other parent receives full legal custody. Visitation may or may not be available to a parent deemed unfit for custody by a family court judge. When criminal history, child abuse, domestic violence, or other similar issues are the reasoning behind a denial of custody rights, it is unlikely for that parent to ever qualify for substantial visitation. It is also possible for a custodial parent to raise a dispute after the finalization of their custody order, claiming the other parent has done something rendering them unfit for custody or visitation.
Parental Kidnapping and Alienation
When parents share custody, they must both abide by the terms of their custody order. Neither parent has the right to refuse their child the ability to communicate with their other parent unless the custody order prohibits this contact. Any parent who does this commits parental alienation and can face various penalties. Parental kidnapping is more serious and involves the physical taking of a child away from their custodial parent in any way. For example, if a parent is granted limited custody for a weekend and refuses to return to the child at the appointed time, this could constitute a parental kidnapping case.
Most parental kidnapping cases pertain to unauthorized interstate or international travel. A custody order typically stipulates the conditions under which a parent may travel with their child. In the event a parent has sole custody, they likely have the ability to travel with their child at their discretion without any obligation to inform the other parent or obtain a noncustodial parent’s permission. However, when parents share custody, they are typically required to disclose all travel plans. Their custody order will likely dictate the limits of travel with the child and the requirements for communicating and approving these requests.
The penalties for parental kidnapping typically include loss of custodial rights and further punishments assigned at the discretion of the court. Depending on the scope and severity of a custody order violation, the parent in violation could face contempt of court, asset seizure, imprisonment, and various other penalties. If you have encountered any violation of your custody order from your child’s other parent, it’s crucial to speak with an experienced Wichita family law attorney as soon as possible.
Q: How Do I Report a Custody Order Violation in Wichita?
A: If you cannot reach a compromise with your co-parent regarding a custody dispute, you must ask the Wichita, KS family court to enforce the order. An experienced family law attorney can help you file your petition for enforcement, or you can file contempt proceedings against your co-parent. Contempt indicates a willful violation of a lawful court order and carries severe penalties.
Q: Do I Need an Attorney to Enforce a Custody Order in Kansas?
A: Experiencing any type of custody order violation can be incredibly distressing. Time is likely to be a critical factor, and having the right attorney assist you makes handling a custody order violation much easier. While it’s not strictly required to hire a lawyer to have the court enforce your custody order, your attorney will know the proper channels to secure enforcement as quickly as possible on your behalf.
Q: What Are the Penalties for a Custody Order Violation?
A: Judges that address custody order violations have the discretion to impose whatever penalties they deem most appropriate to reflect the scope and severity of the violation in question. If a parent has displayed a pattern of unintentional but substantial violations of their custody order, the judge may revise the terms and issue specific penalties they deem suitable to address the parent’s actions. When a parent has caused any kind of harm to their child, they are very likely to lose their custody or visitation rights, likely permanently.
Q: How Can I Avoid Custody Order Violations?
A: Make sure you fully understand the terms of your child custody order and have an experienced attorney clarify any details you do not understand. If anything happens in your life outside of your control that leaves you unable to abide by the terms of your custody order, you have a responsibility to inform the court. You also have the right to petition for a reasonable change to your custody order that reflects this sudden unexpected event in your life.
Ultimately, it can be very difficult for any parent to face a child custody dispute, and a timely response is crucial. If you need to seek legal recourse in response to any violation of your standing custody order, contact an experienced Wichita family law attorney as soon as possible.