Spokane family law attorneys understand that inclement weather can cause problems for parents who are trying to comply with a parenting plan. That concern is particularly pressing as windstorms, snow, falling temperatures, and major power outages cause problems for divorced couples whose holiday plans with their children might be disrupted.
Noncompliance with parenting plans
Parenting plans specify when the children will be with each parent. Suppose the plan states that the father should have the children from 6:00 p.m. Friday until 6:00 p.m. Sunday. If the father is responsible for transporting the children to their mother before 6:00 p.m. Sunday, he may in contempt of court if he fails to do so.
Parents typically get in trouble when they deliberately violate court orders. If the father decides that the parenting plan is unfair and that he should keep the kids until Monday morning, he will be risking contempt sanctions by intentionally disobeying the court’s order. The better course of action is to ask a family law attorney whether grounds exist to modify the parenting plan.
A different situation exists when a parent, attempting to cope with Spokane’s windstorms, snow, and loss of power, is simply unable to return the children on time. An unintentional violation of a parenting order cannot be punished as a contempt of court. The problem that faces the court, however, is deciding whether a violation is intentional or unintentional.
Let the other parent know
Every parent who is subject to a parenting order should make his or her best effort to obey it. No judge is happy when someone deliberately disobeys the judge’s order. Following the order is the only way to be sure that you won’t learn what an unhappy judge will do in response to your violation of the judge’s order.
When an emergency, like a blizzard or a power outage, makes it impossible to obey the order, using common sense can help you make wise decisions. As soon as you know that you will be unable to comply with a parenting order through no fault of your own, notify the other parent. Even if you do not want to talk to the other parent, you should make every effort to do so. It may be tempting to say “I couldn’t call because my cellphone battery died and I couldn’t charge it,” but you are setting yourself up for trouble if you do not borrow someone else’s phone to make the call.
If the other parent is reasonable, you will be able to work out an alternative that takes into account the weather or any other emergency that prevents you from obeying the parenting order. If the other parent is unreasonable, notifying the other parent of the problem at least shows the court that you making a reasonable effort to work out a solution. Be sure to get legal advice, however, if the other parent accuses you of being in contempt of court.
The materials available on this website are for informational purposes only and are not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. This article does not create any attorney-client relationship.