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Do I have to follow this Parenting Time Order?

Father Holding Son's HandYou may need an attorney’s assistance to help figure out whether the answer should be “No.” Ideally, you and the other parent are able to develop a good working relationship that limits the need for Court intervention, but whether you should both ignore the Court’s Order is another matter.

Ordinarily, any person under the Court’s jurisdiction must follow the language of the Court’s orders to the letter. But there may be circumstances that call for a change, and unfortunately, no parenting time order can contemplate every eventuality. It is a good idea to consult an attorney to ascertain whether the change can be done less officially “off the books”, or whether the Order should be revised by the Court.

Parenting time is scheduled time each parent has with his or her child following entry of a Court Order for parenting time. This schedule is usually part of a Judgment of Divorce or Custody. One possible reason to deviate from the order is because the schedule no longer meets your child’s needs. As your child grows, circumstances change, schedules change, needs change and the parenting time order should evolve to adapt to those changes.

If your parenting time order allows the time to be flexible and adapt to those changes, then it may be unnecessary to officially change the language of your order. However, if the Order is more specific, then you may need more official means to revise appropriately. Another possible reason to deviate from the Order may be due to a planned or unplanned event: such as a family wedding, a trip to Morocco, or a school function. The next question is whether the event requires you allotting a portion of your scheduled parenting time to that event, whether you may be entitled to make-up parenting time, or maybe whether valid reasons preclude the child’s participation in that event.

Finally, there may be reasons to “Stick to the Order” no matter what. Some parents rely on the Order to protect their child. If your child looks to the Order as a means to structure time spent with a parent, then deviating from that Order may have unintended consequences if either parent suddenly chooses not to follow the rules. Similarly, parents agreeing not to follow the Order for a period of time, may make it more difficult to revert back to the way things were before the deviation. Sorting through these issues with your attorney should clarify the right avenue to resolution, whether on or off the books.

There are many reasons why you may need to consider deviating from the existing Parenting Time Order, but choosing not to follow the Order comes with some risk. Contact a family law attorney to help you make the right decision based on your circumstances.

Categories: Custody, Post Judgement

Photo of Andrea  Badalucco

Andrea offers more than a decade of courtroom experience in civil, criminal, family law and juvenile matters. Drawn to the particular needs of clients in family law, Andrea has dedicated her time to serving those navigating the sometimes complex arena of the family court system.

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