What Do You Want to Do About It?

By: Allison Schreiber Lee

The period following a court’s entry of a child custody judgment is often fraught with questions, concerns, efforts to settle into a new way of parenting, and general unrest. The parenting plan (court order for how decisions will be made about the children and how the children will spend their time) is an imperfect document that often requires interpretation. Why imperfect? Because while the court can order the general outline of how parents should parent, every family, every day, every situation is different and changes over time.

In addition to the specifics about when the children will be with which parent, the court also includes terms telling parents how they should and should not act, what they should and should not say, and how they should and should not involve the children in any actions after the judgment is entered. So, if there is a violation of one of the court’s orders, what should a parent do? The suggestions for action often lie in the answer to one question: What do you hope to accomplish?

If the goal is to hold someone accountable for a relatively minor infraction, or teach someone a lesson, or stand on principle, the best course of action may be no action at all. Parents, together or not, often do not parent in the same way, and the court will not babysit differences in parenting style or minor infractions of the parenting plan. The litmus tests of the court are often: Is a child in danger, or is there a long pattern of a parent acting out, violating the parenting plan, or making life difficult for the other person just because?

The decision whether to attempt to hold the other parent accountable through the courts begins with a frank conversation with a family law attorney. Possible outcomes, costs, and stress during litigation are all issues to be addressed with an experienced family law attorney. The family law attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. can help you answer those questions.

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Allison Schreiber Lee

Allison Schreiber Lee

Allison Schreiber Lee is a seasoned trial attorney and has been lead counsel in more than 40 jury trials. In 2011, Ms. Schreiber Lee was co-lead counsel in one of the longest jury trials in the history of the City of St. Louis. Ms. Lee has also tried more than 100 non-jury trials to verdict, including representation in divorce and modification hearings.