What You Should Do When a Parenting Plan Isn’t Followed

What You Should Do When a Parenting Plan Isn’t Followed

Married couples get divorced for many reasons. Some of the most common reasons are too much conflict or a lack of commitment. If there are children involved in the relationship, the separating couple needs to agree on how to proceed with managing their parental responsibilities.

This agreement is called the Parenting Plan. However, what if one of the parents does not follow through with their commitments and responsibilities? This article will tell you what you need to know when faced with this type of situation.

Understanding the Parenting Plan

The Parenting Plan is often included as part of the marital separation agreement or the final decree when going through a divorce. It is a child custody plan that both parties negotiate, which specifies what responsibilities will be performed by both parties, including when and how. 

Some of the topics include parenting schedules, holidays and vacations, expenses, and making important, child-related decisions. All these are defined rules under the law. If one of the parents fails to perform their sworn duties, it is considered a violation of the agreement.

How to Know If the Act Is Considered a Violation

Your co-parent is violating your agreed terms if they commit any of the following:

  • They repeatedly fail to meet or perform their expected duties during time-sharing days.
  • They keep the children to themselves, making them estranged from the other parent.
  • They fail to return their children at the agreed time. 
  • They refuse to allow the other parent to see their children. 

What to Do When One Parent Is Not Following the Parenting Plan

If you believe that your ex-partner is committing any of the mentioned behaviors, there are ways you can rectify the situation.

Step 1: Secure Evidence

You cannot prove your claim in court without any substantial evidence. Do your best to document each of their violations. For example, keeping a calendar and taking notes of missed meetings can be a good start. That way, if the court needs to verify events at a specific time, you would have a reference. Also, keep essential exchanges, such as text messages or emails, to show as proof.

Step 2: Talk to Your Ex-Partner

Before taking the legal route, consider talking to your ex-spouse about their violations first. Let this serve as their first warning and the chance to come up with solutions. Your lawyer can help you draft a formal letter stating your thoughts and feelings about their violations. That will ensure that everything you say will not be used against you.

Step 3: If the Violations Continues, File a Motion for Contempt

Some couples find ways to fix their problem internally, but if this is not the case for you, you must file a motion for contempt. This step requests the court’s assistance in forcing someone to comply with the terms of the previous court order. Once the motion is filed, the couple can expect a hearing to take place. 


Divorced parents create Parenting Plans for good reasons. When the agreed plan is not followed, it is the children who suffer. While it is not always possible to avoid such situations, it helps to have legal help to assist in such matters to find a quick and, hopefully, permanent resolution. 

For other concerns on custody arrangements and conflicts, seek help from your lawyer. Parra Harris Law is a bilingual, Jacksonville-based, family law and divorce law firm with more than 45 years of combined experience. Contact us, and we will let you find the best options for your case.

Paola Parra Harris