Judge on the benchThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing the consequences of not following a custody order in Las Vegas, Nevada. My previous post provided an overview of the topics to be discussed throughout this series. It also emphasized the importance of retaining an attorney with family law experience to assist you with child custody disputes. In this article, I will review how Clark County Family Court judges will view a Las Vegas parent’s failure to comply with an existing custody order. If you need assistance, contact my office to schedule a consultation.

Las Vegas Family Court Judges will review the degree and frequency of any custody order violations

When a co-parent violates an existing custody order, the other parent may feel frustrated, angry, and, in some circumstances, fear for their child’s safety. Depending upon the nature of the non-compliance, it may be possible to take legal action to enforce the order. Prior to initiating such action, it is important to understand how a Las Vegas Family Court judge may view the infractions. Generally speaking, the court will be interested in the number of times violations have occurred and the severity of the breach. If a violation is minor but occurs regularly, the judge may elect to take action to enforce the arrangement or hold a parent in contempt for violating the order. If, on the other hand, the parent’s infraction only occurred once but was very serious, the judge may find this an actionable violation.

For example, a father is supposed to return his child to the child’s mother on Sunday evenings at 7:00 pm so she can finish any remaining homework and go to bed by 9:00 pm. Despite her ongoing complaints, he returns the child home at 10:00 pm for eight straight weeks. Each time, the child’s homework is incomplete so she must stay awake much later than normal and her school performance begins to decline. In this instance, the violations may seem relatively minor, but given their ongoing nature and the impact on the child, a judge may determine that the father is in contempt of the order. In another example, a mother relocates out of state with a child without seeking the permission of the father or the court. He files a motion to enforce his custody order and she is forced to return with the child. While the event only occurs once, a judge may determine that the violation is extreme enough to warrant a change in custody.

Las Vegas parents should bring enforcement action relatively quickly after the violation occurs

While it is important for parents to attempt to work together to handle minor violations of custody orders, parents should not put off bringing legal action inevitably. Those who have dealt with non-compliance with their custody order on a long-term basis should be prepared to answer questions about why they accepted the behavior for so long before filing suit. Judges may be inclined to believe that a late challenge is motivated by something other than the child’s best interest. For instance, if a father moves out of state with a child for four years before the mother challenges the relocation in court, a judge will likely wonder why she delayed and what is causing her to act after so much time.

Child custody disputes can be complicated. I cannot overstate the importance of consulting with an experienced Las Vegas family lawyer to help you understand your options. My office is ready to assist you. If you need help with a child custody matter, contact us today to schedule a consultation.