Skip to Content

Dealing with a Parent Who Ignores Your Custody Order

  • Court order: A written document, signed by a judge, that tells the people involved in a court case to do something or not do something. It also can give them legal rights or responsibilities. There are many different types of court orders. 
  • Custody order: A type of court order that says which parent has custody of the children or whether the parents will share custody.  
  • Parenting time: A type of court order that says when each parent can see the children. 
  • Parenting plan: A written document with rules for how parents will share parenting responsibilities. Parenting plans usually include the parenting time schedule. If a parenting plan is part of a court order, both parents must follow it.

You have options:  

  1. Go get your child back. If it’s safe, go get your child. Just don’t break any laws, like trespassing or assault. Don’t do anything that will traumatize your child unnecessarily.  
  2. Call the police. You may call the police and report what happened. They may be able to assist you. But sometimes the police will tell you that you need to get a court order before they can help you.  
  3. Ask the court for help. If your child is still in Oregon, you can go to the courthouse in the county where your child is located and apply for an Order of Assistance. This order tells the police to help you get your child back. You can find free court forms on Oregon's state court website (use the Enforcement of Custody packet) or you can get these forms from the local circuit court. You can usually get help quickly, within a few days. If your child is in a different state, you should talk a lawyer in that state.  
  4. If you don’t know where your child is, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678. They can work with you and local police to help you get your child back. They also have a helpful checklist of things to do if your child goes missing.

It’s free to turn in custody enforcement forms—there’s no filing fee. 

After you turn in your Enforcement of Custody paperwork, the court may:  

  • Have you meet with a judge that same day,  
  • Schedule a hearing for you to talk to a judge later, or  
  • Approve your paperwork without a hearing.  

These steps vary from court-to-court, so ask the local court for information on what happens after you turn in your forms.  

If the other parent has sole custody, but is not allowing you to have your parenting time with the child, do not file custody enforcement paperwork. Instead you can turn in Parenting Plan Enforcement forms.   

If your child is another state, you will need to find legal help in that state. 

  • Try to talk to the other parent to work out the problem if you can do this safely (and if no court order keeps you from contacting the other parent);  
  • You can contact a private or court-connected mediator to see if they can help you and the other parent solve the problem; or  
  • You can also contact an attorney to get advice.  

If these steps fail or if they are not options for you, you can file papers with the court about the denial of parenting time. These forms are called "Parenting Time Enforcement" forms. 

Contact your courthouse for specific instructions on how to file these forms.  

The court charges a $56 filing fee. If your income and resources are very low, you can ask the court to let you:   

  • File for free (called fee waiver); or    
  • Pay later (called fee deferral).   

You must fill out a form to ask for a fee waiver or fee deferral. This form is available on Oregon's state court website, or you can get a copy at your local circuit court. 

Warning! If the court gives you a fee deferral, the fees must be fully paid by you or the other person when the case ends. If the fees are not paid at the end of the case, the court may charge extra fees, or send the balance to collections. If you can’t afford to pay at the end of the case, talk to your local court about setting up a payment plan.   

The hearing must be held no later than 45 days after you file your papers. Most courts give you the hearing date when you file.  

No. It is your responsibility to make sure the other parent gets copies of the court papers and the hearing notice. This is called service. If you do not serve the other parent, the hearing will be rescheduled and you will not have a hearing until you do.  

Click here to read a guide with information on how to serve your court papers.  

It depends on the facts of your case. At your hearing, if a judge finds that the other party disobeyed your parenting plan, the judge can:  

  • Make minor changes to the parenting schedule;  
  • Add new rules or guidelines to your parenting plan; 
  • Give you make-up parenting time;  
  • Order the parent who didn’t follow the plan to deposit money with the court that the parent would lose if they don’t follow the parenting time order again; 
  • Require one or both parents to attend counseling or classes focused on the impact to children when parenting time is denied;  
  • Order the parent that didn’t follow the parenting plan to pay the costs of the hearing (including filing fees, court fees, hearing costs, and attorney fees);  
  • End or change spousal support; or 
  • End or change child support, or 
  • Schedule a hearing on custody. 

The judge can only order small changes to make the current schedule work better. If you want big changes to the parenting plan, you need to file paperwork to change your custody order.  

Not sure this is the information you need?

We can help you find the right information.

Do you want to find a lawyer?

Search for lawyers and organizations that provide free and low-cost legal help.