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My Ex Violated Our Child Custody Order, What Do I Do?

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Child Custody Orders- How a Legal Paraprofessional Can Help

Dealing with a custody agreement can be challenging, especially when one party fails to comply with the court-ordered terms. If your ex-spouse violates the custody order, it can be incredibly frustrating and concerning for the well-being of your children. In some cases, the violation may be minor and can be resolved through communication and mediation. However, if the violation is significant and ongoing, it may be necessary to take legal action.

When your ex-spouse repeatedly fails to comply with the custody order, it’s important to seek legal guidance to protect your children’s best interests. In some cases, the violation may warrant legal intervention, and even jail time for the offending party.

De Novo Law legal paraprofessionals can provide the necessary support and guidance to handle the legal processes involved in addressing custody order violations. In this article, we will explore the steps you can take if your ex-spouse has violated the child custody order and what options are available to ensure the safety and well-being of your children. 

We will cover the following topics:

What  Is Considering a Violation Of A Child Custody Order 

A child custody order, established during the divorce or separation process, outlines the rights and responsibilities of each parent regarding their child’s upbringing. Violations of this order can range from minor infractions to significant breaches, all of which can disrupt the child’s routine and negatively impact their well-being.

Understanding what constitutes a violation is important for enforcing and adhering to the custody agreement.

  1. Non-compliance with Visitation Schedules: This occurs when one parent fails to adhere to the visitation schedule outlined in the custody order. It can include not allowing the child to visit the other parent during the designated times, returning the child later than agreed, or refusing to hand over the child at the scheduled time. 
  2. Unapproved Relocation: Moving the child to a new location without the consent of the other parent or the court, especially if the move significantly affects the current custody arrangement or the other parent’s ability to visit the child.
  3. Making Unilateral Decisions: This involves making major decisions about the child’s life, such as those regarding education, healthcare, or religious upbringing, without consulting the other parent when joint legal custody is in place.
  4. Withholding Information: Failing to inform or update the other parent about crucial aspects of the child’s life, including educational progress, health issues, or significant social developments.
  5. Parental Alienation: Actively working to damage the child’s relationship with the other parent, whether through derogatory comments, false accusations, or obstructing communication and visitation between the child and the other parent.
  6. Travel Violations: Taking the child out of the agreed jurisdiction or out of the country without the consent of the other parent or the court, especially when the custody order has specific stipulations about travel.

Each of these actions can be seen as a violation of a child custody order, and depending on the severity and frequency, they may lead to legal consequences, including a reassessment of the child custody agreement by the court.

How Does The Court Enforce Parenting Time in Arizona? 

When one parent violates a parenting plan, the court can intervene through various mechanisms:

  1. Filing for Enforcement: The affected parent may file a petition, prompting the court to review the situation and enforce the custody order.
  2. Mediation: Courts may recommend mediation to resolve issues, encouraging parents to find an amicable solution with the help of a neutral third party.
  3. Legal Remedies: Depending on the severity of the violation, the court has several options:
    • Awarding make-up parenting time to compensate for missed visitation.
    • Imposing fines or requiring the violating parent to pay the other parent’s legal fees.
    • Modifying the custody order if violations are repeated or severe.
    • Mandating counseling or parenting classes to address behavioral issues.
    • Holding the violating parent in contempt of court, leading to fines or jail time.

The court’s primary focus in these actions is always the child’s best interests, ensuring their well-being and stability are maintained.

How To Deal With An Uncooperative Co-Parent 

Dealing with an uncooperative co-parent after a divorce or separation can be incredibly challenging. It’s helpful to approach this situation with strategies that aim to reduce conflict and foster a healthier co-parenting relationship.

 Prioritizing clear communication, establishing a consistent, clear way to talk about your child’s needs, and using written messages or co-parenting apps can avoid misunderstandings and keep a reliable record of your interactions.

It’s important to be straightforward yet respectful, focusing discussions on your child rather than any personal grievances.

Documenting every incident of non-cooperation or breach of the custody agreement. Record dates, times, and descriptions of any incidents, along with your attempts to resolve these issues. This documentation can come in handy, especially if legal intervention becomes necessary. Speaking of legal tools, don’t hesitate to use them if your personal efforts aren’t enough. Mediation can offer a neutral setting to work through conflicts, and if that doesn’t work, you might need to file a petition to enforce the custody order.

Remember to lean on your support network during these times.

Friends, family, or support groups can provide emotional support, and professional counseling might help you and your child cope with the stress of dealing with an uncooperative co-parent. And while you can’t control your co-parent’s actions, you can control how you respond. Stay calm, focus on your child’s well-being, and steer clear of conflicts, especially in your child’s presence.

What Are The Legal Ramifications For Not Following a Custody Order 

Not adhering to a custody order in Arizona is a serious matter and can lead to various legal ramifications. These consequences are designed to enforce compliance and protect the child’s best interests.

 Here are the primary legal repercussions for not following a custody order:

  1. Contempt of Court: This is one of the most common consequences. A parent who willfully disobeys a custody order may be held in contempt of court, which can result in fines, court-ordered community service, and in some cases, jail time.
  2. Modification of Custody Order: Persistent non-compliance can lead the court to reconsider the current custody arrangement. This could result in a reduction of custody or visitation rights for the non-compliant parent.
  3. Fines and Legal Fees: Courts can impose fines on the violating parent and may also order them to pay the legal fees incurred by the other parent in bringing the violation to the court’s attention.
  4. Make-up Parenting Time: The court may grant additional parenting time to the compliant parent to compensate for the time lost due to the violation.
  5. Mandatory Education or Counseling: The court might require the non-compliant parent to attend parenting classes or counseling sessions to address the behaviors that led to the violation.
  6. Restriction of Parental Rights: In severe cases, such as when a parent’s actions endanger the child’s well-being, the court may place restrictions on their parental rights, including supervised visitation or, in extreme situations, termination of parental rights.

Custody orders are not suggestions but legally binding agreements.

Violating a custody order can lead to severe legal consequences, not to mention the potential emotional and psychological impact on the child involved.

Requesting a Contempt Hearing in Response to Violations

When your ex violates your child custody order and diplomatic solutions falter, seeking a contempt hearing may be beneficial.

This legal avenue prompts the court to not only enforce the custody agreement but also to potentially penalize the non-compliant party.

If you find yourself contemplating this step, here’s a rundown of the process and its implications:

The term ‘contempt of court’ in family law signifies your ex’s deliberate violation of the custody order. To set this legal process in motion, you need to file a motion for contempt with the same court that issued the initial custody order. This document should outline the specific instances where the custody order was violated.

Backing your motion with substantial evidence is the next important step.

This might include documented exchanges, detailed visitation records, or any other tangible proof demonstrating the breach of the custody arrangement. If the court greenlights your motion, it will schedule a hearing. This is your platform to explain the violation’s nature and its repercussions on your child.

The consequences for your ex, if found in contempt, can range widely based on the violation’s severity and the court’s judgment. Options include granting additional parenting time to compensate for missed visits, imposing monetary penalties, mandating attendance in parenting classes, or, in serious scenarios, incarceration.

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

If you’re facing a situation where your ex has violated your child custody order, it can feel really overwhelming. But remember, there are steps you can take, and getting help from a child custody legal paraprofessional at De Novo Law can be a game-changer.

First things first, these experts know the ins and outs of family law. They can help you understand exactly what your custody order means and identify how it’s been violated. They’re great at helping you gather and organize any proof you have of these violations, like messages or documented incidents.

If you need to, they can guide you through the process of filing a petition with the court to address these violations. They know all the paperwork inside out, so they’ll make sure everything is completed correctly and on time. 

Sometimes, situations like these can be resolved without going to court. A legal paraprofessional can offer advice on negotiating with your ex and suggest resources like mediation, where you can both try to sort things out with the help of a neutral third party.

Having someone from De Novo Law Firm by your side can provide not just legal support but also peace of mind. They’re there to make sure your rights and your child’s best interests are protected every step of the way.

If you’re ready to take action and want expert help, contacting De Novo Law Firm is easy. De Novo Law offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case and can be reached at (480) 725-2200



Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

DISCLAIMER: The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  De Novo Law, LLC and its Legal Paraprofessionals are not attorneys and are not authorized to provide legal advice or representation beyond the areas and scope of practice for which license is held.  The transmission or receipt of any electronic correspondence or information does not create a legal paraprofessional-client relationship.


Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.

De Novo Law Blog

Special Needs Children and Child Custody Agreements

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Child Custody – How a Legal Paraprofessional Can Help

At De Novo Law, we specialize in tackling cases involving child custody for special needs children. This article offers insights into the implications of a special needs child turning 18 and the importance of special needs trusts as well as various other topics. 

Our Legal Paraprofessionals offer a distinct approach compared to traditional family law attorneys. Paraprofessionals are licensed to provide legal services in family law, including complex child custody cases involving special needs children.

They differ from attorneys in their focused expertise and the ability to offer more accessible and affordable legal support.

If you are dealing with child custody matters involving a special needs child, De Novo Law offers a free initial consultation to help you determine the best course of action.

We will cover the following topics:

Child Support in Special Needs Child Custody

Child custody cases involving special needs children in Arizona require careful consideration, especially regarding child support. 


Key Considerations in Calculating Child Support

  • Arizona Child Support Guidelines: While these guidelines provide a standard framework, they are adapted to accommodate additional costs like extraordinary medical expenses, special education, and care needs specific to the child.
  • Extraordinary Expenses: Medical care, therapy, and specialized education or care for the child significantly impact the child support calculation.

Modifying Child Support

  • Evolving Needs: Child support arrangements can be adjusted to reflect changes in the child’s needs or parents’ financial situations.
  • Court Intervention: Parents can request court intervention for modifications to the support order to address these changes.

Developing an Effective Custody Schedule for a Special Needs Child

In Arizona, the Smith family’s custody schedule for their 10-year-old daughter Emily, who has autism, is a model of consideration for special needs.

During weekdays, Emily stays with her mother, Mrs. Smith, who resides near Emily’s special education school and therapy center. This arrangement ensures minimal disruption to Emily’s routine, important for her well-being.

On weekends, Emily spends time with her father, Mr. Smith, ensuring she maintains a strong relationship with both parents. This balance allows Mr. Smith to actively participate in Emily’s care and routine, fostering a nurturing environment for her.

The Smiths alternate holidays and vacations, adapting their schedule for unforeseen changes, such as adjustments in therapy sessions. Their flexibility and communication are key, especially when coordinating around Emily’s medical and educational needs.

This schedule is regularly reviewed and adjusted in consultation with healthcare and education professionals, reflecting Emily’s evolving needs.

The Smiths’ collaborative approach, prioritizing stability, flexibility, and Emily’s best interests, exemplifies effective co-parenting in a special needs custody arrangement.

Joint legal custody of a special needs child in Arizona, under the guidance of Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), demands careful attention to the child’s unique requirements.

 ARS §25-403 prioritizes the child’s best interests in legal decision-making, while ARS §25-410 addresses emergency healthcare decisions, a critical aspect for special needs children.

Additional Considerations and Potential Issues

  • Education Plans: Joint legal custody requires parents to collaboratively decide on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) or 504 Plans, which may lead to disagreements on educational approaches or therapies.
  • Adjustments to Routine: For special needs children, consistency in routine is key. Transitions between households can be challenging, requiring parents to establish a stable environment in both homes.
  • Financial Responsibilities: Additional costs associated with the child’s care, like therapies, medications, and specialized equipment, must be equitably shared, often leading to disputes over financial obligations.
  • Parental Disagreements: Differences in parenting styles or opinions on medical and educational decisions can create conflicts, necessitating mediation or legal intervention.

Handling Challenges in Joint Legal Custody

  • Mediation and Legal Support: In cases of disagreement, ARS §25-402 recommends mediation. Parents may also seek legal counsel to ensure fair decision-making.
  • Adapting to Changes: As the special needs child grows, their needs may evolve, requiring adjustments to custody agreements and shared decision-making strategies.


Joint legal custody of a special needs child in Arizona involves complex considerations beyond standard custody arrangements.

Challenges such as coordinating education plans, managing financial responsibilities, and addressing routine disruptions require parents to work collaboratively and sometimes seek external support.

Understanding and Utilizing Special Needs Trusts in Custody Cases

In custody cases involving a special needs child, establishing a special needs trust is essential for the child’s long-term financial well-being.

This type of trust is specifically designed to handle the expenses of raising a child with disabilities without affecting their eligibility for government benefits like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

A special needs trust is a legal arrangement where assets are held and managed by a trustee to benefit a special needs individual. It’s crafted to provide for additional needs that are not covered by government assistance, including specialized medical care, educational needs, and personal care. 

In the context of custody cases, these trusts offer a structured way for both parents to contribute financially to their child’s care.

They ensure that funds are specifically used for the child’s benefit, offering clarity and accountability in financial contributions. 

Parents are encouraged to collaboratively establish the trust, often with the guidance of legal experts in special needs planning. This ensures the trust is compliant with both state and federal laws and serves the child’s best interests.

Transitioning to Adulthood: Custody and Support When a Special Needs Child Turns 18

As a special needs child in Arizona approaches the age of 18, changes can occur in custody and support arrangements.

At 18, the child is legally considered an adult, impacting existing custody orders and child support obligations.

However, for special needs individuals, reaching adulthood often doesn’t negate the need for continued parental support, both financially and in terms of care.

Key considerations during this transition include potential guardianship if the child cannot make decisions independently. Parents may need to legally establish guardianship to continue making important decisions for their child.

Additionally, decisions regarding adult living arrangements become pertinent, whether the child remains at home or moves to a specialized care facility.

Financial support also undergoes changes. Parents might have to modify child support agreements to better suit the child’s adult needs. Moreover, transitioning to adult government benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid requires planning to ensure uninterrupted support.

Establishing or continuing a special needs trust is important for providing necessary financial support without affecting the child’s eligibility for government aid. Parents should also explore suitable vocational and educational programs to support their child’s abilities and interests in adulthood.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1: What does “best interest of the child” mean in the context of a child with special needs?

A1: The “best interest of the child” standard in family law considers the unique needs of a child with special needs, including their health, emotional development, and education. It requires that custody decisions prioritize the child’s specific needs, ensuring their overall well-being.

Q2: How is physical custody determined for a child with special needs?

A2: Physical custody refers to where the child lives. In cases involving a child with special needs, the court will consider the child’s medical needs, daily care requirements, and routine stability when determining physical custody arrangements.

Q3: What should a parenting plan include for a special-needs child?

A3: A parenting plan for a special-needs child should outline specific routines, medical care plans, educational arrangements, and any necessary therapies. It should be detailed and flexible to accommodate the child’s evolving needs.

Q4: Are child support payments different when a child has special needs?

A4: Yes, child support payments may be adjusted to address the additional expenses a child with special needs may incur. This can include therapy, special education, and medical expenses.

Q5: Can a parent get full custody if their child requires special care?

A5: Sole custody may be granted if it’s in the best interest of the child, especially if one parent is better equipped to handle the child’s special needs. However, Arizona courts generally prefer arrangements that allow the child to have meaningful relationships with both parents.

Q6: What considerations are made for visitation schedules for special needs children?

A6: Visitation schedules for special needs children often require more structure to maintain routine and stability. They may need to account for the child’s therapy sessions, medical appointments, and other unique requirements.

Q7: How do custody matters differ when an older child with special needs is involved?

A7: For an older child with special needs, custody matters might focus more on long-term care planning, transition to adult services, and guardianship issues, alongside their ongoing medical and educational needs.

Q8: What challenges do parents of children with special needs face in custody battles?

A8: Parents of children with special needs may face challenges in demonstrating their ability to meet the child’s special requirements, disputes over medical decisions, and managing the financial burden of care.

Q9: In custody decisions, how are a child’s educational needs considered?

A9: The child’s educational needs are a crucial factor in custody decisions. This includes the choice of school, special education services, and any necessary accommodations or therapies.

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

How a Legal Paraprofessional Can Help

Legal Paraprofessionals like Stephanie Villalobos at De Novo Law offer a new dimension of legal assistance, especially in family law matters involving custody and support for special needs children.

Licensed by the Arizona Supreme Court, they can provide legal services and court representation, making them a cost-effective alternative to traditional attorneys. Their expertise is particularly valuable in complex family law cases, where they can offer guidance and support throughout the process.

For those interested in exploring this option, De Novo Law offers a free one-on-one consultation.

You can contact them at (480) 725-2200 or visit their contact page to schedule a consultation and discuss your family law needs. This consultation provides an excellent opportunity to understand how a Legal Paraprofessional can assist you, especially in cases involving special needs children.

Affordable and Experienced Family Law Legal Services
Schedule an Appointment Today!

DISCLAIMER: The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  De Novo Law, LLC and its Legal Paraprofessionals are not attorneys and are not authorized to provide legal advice or representation beyond the areas and scope of practice for which license is held.  The transmission or receipt of any electronic correspondence or information does not create a legal paraprofessional-client relationship.


Contact De Novo Law at any time to setup a free one-on-one consultation so we can discuss your concerns.

Please Call Us at (480) 725-2200 or Fill Out the Form Below to Schedule a FREE Initial Consultation with an Affordable Legal Paraprofessional to Assist with an Arizona Divorce or other Family Law Matters.