It’s sometimes easy to think of a divorce as something that is done and over with as soon as you sign the papers. You want to be able to wash your hands of the marriage and move on. But when children are involved, you soon realize that your divorce is not a single event, but a series of continued events that span over many, many years.
Divorce decrees are written in a way that make them sound firm and unwavering, but the reality is, things change, including the circumstances and people involved in a divorce. And when these changes occur, the once solid divorce decree can often become either too strict or not strict enough. Couples involved in the divorce may feel that the decree isn’t enough on its own to enforce the agreement. In some cases, a person may even feel it’s necessary to involve law enforcement to help enforce the guidelines of the divorce decree.
Here’s the scenario:
Your divorce has been over with for some time now, and for the most part, you and your ex-spouse have done a pretty good job of living up to the agreements settled upon or ordered in the divorce decree. But it seems like ever since your ex was remarried, he or she tends to get a little lazy when it comes to getting the kids to you for your allotted parenting time.
At first, it was just the running late by 30 minutes to an hour. Then it became several hours. You may have chosen not to make too big of a deal of this until the first time your ex called or texted to tell you he/she was keeping them an additional night. In some cases, you may not even get the call or text. The time arrives when you are supposed to have your children, but neither them nor your ex are anywhere to be found.
For some, this is absolutely unacceptable. It not only violates the divorce decree, it also violates any lingering trust you may have with your ex. You might try calling, texting, emailing or even going to your ex’s home, but you still don’t have any idea where your children are.
This is when it becomes very easy to be tempted to call the police. Even though there might be other steps to take, most of us are willing to skip these steps when it comes to our children.
So you call the police and you explain the situation. You might assume that your divorce decree should hold up as strongly as any other state or federal law and that your local law enforcement should be ready and willing to enforce it. The truth is, it really depends on the law enforcement agency and the actual officer that responds to the call.
In some cases, an officer may choose to get involved by either calling your ex or even going to their house to confront them about the supposed violation of the divorce decree. This is especially true if it appears that your ex-spouse has kidnapped or abused your children.
But when it comes to enforcing the drop off/pick up time of children, more often than not, the officer will simply recommend that you take it up with the courts, and for good reason. Your disagreement with your spouse may boil down to a simple misunderstanding or wrong interpretation of the divorce decree. This can be very difficult for the police to enforce.
If you notice that your ex-spouse is continuing to violate your divorce decree, the best thing to do is file for a “Motion to Enforce” through the court. This will allow the issue to be re-visited and more clearly defined by the court to avoid future confusion or violation.
For help with a Motion to Enforce, call Naegle & Crider Attorneys at Law at 480-378-9000 and ask to speak with Family Law Attorney Brad Crider.