How does California enforce child custody orders?

When a California family law judge makes a child custody or visitation order, it becomes a court order and therefore yields the same power as the law. If a parent or guardian violates the court order, the other parent has a few legal remedies. The Judicial Branch of California explores those remedies in brief.

Before it explains enforcement remedies, the branch details ways you can avoid custody headaches. The first is to keep your current court order in a safe place. This way, if the other party does violate the order, you can produce a copy for law enforcement to peruse it when it comes time to enforce it. If you and your child’s other parent or guardian make significant changes to the existing order, make sure you retain a copy of the new order as well.

Your court order should specify details such as where your child will spend holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. It should also detail how much time each parent gets with the child, where each parent will live, how and when parents will exchange custody and how both parents will work to ensure the child’s needs are met. All this information should go a long way toward preventing custody disputes.

If a dispute arises regardless of your careful planning, you have three options. The first is to contact the local police department, which has the authority to enforce the order. If you cannot locate your child or the other parent, contact the county district attorney, who will then contact the unit for the recovery of an abducted child. If your child’s other parent continues to violate the court order, you may be able to file «contempt of court» action. If convicted, a contempt of court action can have serious consequences for your child’s other parent, such as jail time.

This article is not intended to serve as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.

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