Enforcement of Parenting Plan in Washington
What if the parties' disagree on how to follow a parenting plan?This problem can be greatly minimized if an experienced, knowledgeable and careful attorney does the drafting. Unfortunately, that is often not the case.
The parenting plan generally includes provisions on what the parties are to do in the event they experience conflict in how to follow the parenting plan (i.e., dispute resolution). This dispute resolution may include mediation, arbitration, counseling or court action. The dispute resolution provision generally states that the parties must exhaust dispute resolution before marching back into Court (except in situations of clear contempt, described below).
How does one deal with contempt of a parenting plan?One of the most common reasons for filing contempt of court regarding the parenting plan has to do with one parent withholding the child from the other parent, in contravention of the express terms of the parenting plan's residential schedule. Generally, bad faith is required to be shown/found by the Court if contempt is to be Ordered by the Court. If the violating parent is found in contempt, they may be responsible for the other parent's attorney's fees, a civil monetary penalty, and may also have to give the other parent make-up time with the child. If a parent is found in contempt of court twice in a three year period of time (per Order), that may be a basis for filing a petition for modification with the Court. Be sure you discuss these issues with an experienced custody attorney before taking action on your own to make sure you don't miss anything. This area of the law is literally a minefield for unsuspecting parents.