What can I do when the custodial parent is violating a court order?

I was divorced 4 years ago and as part of the divorce orders my ex-wife requested the inclusion of a morality order which does not allow for overnight guests of the opposite sex when the children are present. Currently she has a new boyfriend and I learned she is staying the night in his home with our 2 children approximately 2 nights a week. We have joint legal custody. I know that if I did this, she could petition the court to change my visitation to no longer include overnight, but since she is the primary custodian, what legal recourse do I have to stop this behavior?

Asked on December 10, 2011 under Family Law, Michigan


L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding your ex-wife’s violation of the child visitation agreement, as approved by the court.  As with many states, your state court allowed for a morality clause allow for the negotiation of child custody within the divorce decree.  The terms of these morality clauses can relate to religion, extracurricular activities, and even who the child is permitted to be around when in the physical custody of the parents.

Currently, it appears that your divorce decree prohibits your children to be in the presence of any unrelated, opposite gender individuals when in your ex-wife’s physical custody, and she is currently violating this term of the agreement.  The court has ordered the agreement in this fashion, because the court believed it to be in the best interest of the children. If she violates the terms of the divorce decree, then she could be held in contempt of court.

However, divorce decrees, as well as child custody, child support, and visitation can be modified if there has been a change in circumstances. This means that these terms may not be forever if the judge sees fit to change the terms of the divorce decree. You may petition the court for your ex-wife to be held in contempt, and you can also petition the court for a modification of the custody of the children if your ex-wife does not seem to be making decisions that are in the best interests of the children.  If you need further assistance with these petitions, you can contact a family law attorney in your area.


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